No shirt, no shoes ... no court? Judge enforcing dress code

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By Cindy Simpson

Those with a court date before Roane County General Sessions Court Judge Jeff Wicks will soon have to consider what they are wearing more carefully.

Starting July 1, Wicks’ courtroom will have a dress code, something the judge said is an unfortunate result of a few inappropriately attired people.

“This is something that has been brewing for the last couple of years, at least,” he said. “[Like in] so many cases, the actions of a few require rules to be created that affect everyone.”

The dress code says that the court can refuse to hear any case of anyone that fails to abide by the dress code.  

“Most people that come to court dress appropriately, but there are a few that do not,” he added.

The new standards require shirt and shoes to be worn in the courtroom.

What not to wear: shorts, tank tops, halter tops or other revealing clothing, cutoff T-shirts and hats, caps and bandanas.

“We still have a lot of men coming in with hats on,” Wicks said.

The dress code also prohibits clothing with “obscene or profane language, images, or messages contemptuous or disrespectful of the judicial process.”

Clothing must also cover all undergarments for women and men.

While there are other instances, most of the time it is the revealing nature of the clothing worn that is the prevalent concern. As the temperature rises, so has that concern.

“That is a lot of it,” Wicks said.

Recent incidences led the judge to rule on the fashion scene from his bench.

Some of the most recent incidences include a man who wore a shirt that court officers instructed him to turn inside out because of its offensive language.

Another person was told to cover up a provocative tattoo during juvenile court proceedings.

“It was something they didn’t really need to be seeing,” Wicks explained.

Court officials will be somewhat lenient at first as visitors to the court become accustomed to the dress code.

“We’re going to start reminding people when they come to court inappropriately that effective July 1 they would not be able to wear that in the courtroom,” Wicks said.

No word yet on whether other judges will call the shots on courtroom fashion faux pas.

Wicks said he will share his dress code with General Sessions Judge Dennis Humphrey, who was on vacation last week and not available for comment.