Jeans, Sandals, and the Federal Judge

May 27, 2009

Today was an in-office day — expecting no clients — so I wore jeans and sandals to work.  At 2:45 one of the Federal Court Clerks called.  A big murder trial looms and the District Court judge wanted me to come consult with a witness who might need to exercise her Fifth Amendment rights.  I explained that I was wearing jeans and sandals, but could run home, change clothes and be there by 4:00.  (Smart lawyers keep a court outfit in the office — I guess I could arrange that.)  The clerk said okay.  I ran out to the car, drove two blocks and my cell phone rang.  Says the Clerk, “The judge says this is a come-as-you-are party — just get here!”   I checked in with Court Security — raised eyebrows.  I took the elevator up and rushed into the Courtroom.  Ahh, famous California defense attorney, greeted me warmly, but I caught him looking at my attire out of the corner of his eye.  The Assistant US attorneys said, “How come we can’t dress like that?”  I told them it’s because they make more money than I do.

The judge came out on the bench; I apologized for my outfit.  She said what she had to say, “Oh, no, you are fine.  The Court is very grateful that you dropped everything and came over to help us.”  Yup!  That’s what I did.  So then I was assigned a missing witness.  Honest!  The guy had not showed up for court.  Now why was I there?  Why was it an emergency?  I picked up a fat envelope of documents produced under a protective order and was told that when they find the witness, they’ll call me.   I say, “Thank you, your honor.  May I be excused?”  We talk like that in Federal Court even when we’re wearing jeans.   She excused me and I left the building.

I paid for my parking, pulled out of the garage and my cell phone rang.  It was the clerk, “The judge needs you to come back.”  I did a U-turn back into the garage.  I grabbed the envelope of secret documents, went back to the Court building, back to security, “How did you get by us?  The judge is looking for you.”  Geez!  Back up the elevator.  It turns out that one of the other emergency witness attorneys had been with the US Attorney’s Office when the case was being investigated and therefore had a conflict.  The judge asked me to consult instead with the meth addict witness who was present, twisting in her seat, and chewing her nails.  You bettcha’, judge.  So I traded my secret document envelope for two secret document envelopes, talked with the witness for twenty minutes, set up an appointment with her for tomorrow.  I went to my car and actually made it out of the garage and to the office without being called back.

I ceremoniously checked off item #427 on my list:  “Appear in Federal Court in jeans and sandals.”  What a great day’s work!


  1. C-Myste says:

    Do you need me to knit you some special socks to go with your sandals for next time?


  2. Janet says:

    A friend of mine and I are “Law and Order” addicts. One of our favorite parlor games is to speculate about how the writers will incorporate recent popular cases into the storylines. (Sad, I know!) We’ll start looking now for the casually-attired attorney and think of you when it shows up!!

  3. Dawn says:

    Well, heck thats twice in Jeans and sandals. Way to go! Personally I prefer comfort to stuffy even in my attorney.

  4. traci says:

    it’s definitely not something just every lawyer gets to experience! 🙂 And I’m with Dawn… I’ll take comfy over stuffy any day! LOL Darned “rules” 🙂

  5. Holly says:

    Me three – comfy vs stuffy is the way to go! What an experience LOL.

  6. Sandy says:

    OK! NOT FAIR……everytime I appear before a judge it is in uniform, usually with handcuffs in my hand…ready to attach them to someone’s wrists. I would think jeans and sandals and a ballistics vest would start some kind of fashion trend, huh? 😉

  7. Sherilyn says:

    I totally agree!! I think the whole world needs to go casual! Maybe we’d all get along better if we didn’t have to dress so “stuffy”! Well, all except dog shows…those we need to still stay dressed up for. 😉 Priorities, ya know?

  8. Harriet says:

    My youngest daughter forwarded your site to me, laughingly telling me that you and I must be kindred spirits. I am a paralegal, did not go back to college until I turned 50, and was determined to make it out of college before my 4th child finished at the same college. We share our home now with 2 cats and a blue healer that we love like you do your Corgis. We live in Indiana because we were born here and our families are almost all here. Since you love your camera, visit my niece’s website for a lot of blab and great photos – kathy mccloy photography. I enjoyed visiting your entertaining blog. May God bless you.

  9. Lybertygirl says:

    ROFL – Oh Man I have been there! I was enjoying a nice day off, buzzing around one of our local lakes on a speed boat when I got an emergency call ordering me to get to the courthouse immediately to conduct a presentence interview on an inmate that was leaving to go into federal custody (you darn Feds are so pushy). Here I am all wind blow, in a T-shirt and shorts and no time to run home. Thank goodness I did have a pair of Jeans in the car. UGH, was I embarrassed. He takes great joy in reminding me of that from time to time.

  10. Why am I reminded of “My Cousin Vinny” and the red velvet suit?

  11. Renee says:

    Your #427 wish is like my #23 Westminster wish….wink.

  12. Great day indeed!

    I think the whole dressing up thing is seriously overrated. Much better to be comfy.