By RICK HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — An addendum to a dress code implemented at the Jefferson County Courthouse has been initiated.
Effective Tuesday, shorts will be allowed inside the courthouse as long as they are deemed "appropriate" by deputies and court officials, according to Sheriff Roger Mulch. Mulch and Resident Judge Jo Beth Weber implemented the new dress code, which became effective on Monday.
"The term 'shorts' on our postings will be amended to inappropriate shorts," Mulch said Tuesday during a news conference at the courthouse. "As a general rule of thumb, shorts should not be above the outstretched fingertips of a person who has their arms extended," he explained.
Of the 600 or so people coming through the courthouse on Monday, none were turned away for inappropriate dress, according to Deputy Gary Williams, of the court security system. He said two people were turned away on Tuesday morning for wearing shorts. Williams added the number of people coming to the courthouse this time of year has increased due to taxpayers paying first installment real estate taxes.
The new dress code, with the addendum, became effective following Mulch's news conference.
Mulch said the dress code does not effect employees of the courthouse since they are mandated to follow rules "governing appearance and/or dress codes established by each officeholder." He added that vendors who visit the courthouse regularly — such as U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS employees are exempt from the dress code since shorts are part of their uniform.
Shorts will be allowed in court rooms — if they are deemed appropriate by judges and courthouse security.
"That's up to the individual judges," Mulch said. "If a judge feels the shorts are appropriate, then it's okay. But it it's not, it should be stopped before they enter the court room."
Mulch said the reaction to the new dress code has mostly been positive, with a small percentage voicing discontent.
"People say it's about time. Some have been upset about wearing shorts, probably a half dozen or so, but we think we've addressed it by initiating this addendum," he said. "We've backed off on the shorts to let the court or deputies decide if it is appropriate."
When in doubt, visitors using the courthouse should use common sense, he added.
"If everybody would use common sense, we wouldn't have had to address this," Mulch said. "You are going to court to better yourself; use common sense. As a general rule, the people we're targeting there is no question about whether their dress is appropriate or not. If you're coming to court to better yourself, respect that. Be presentable to be respected. We want people to dress for success," he said.
Mulch added that offensive language or logos on T-shirts will not be allowed at the courthouse and offenders will be given a 30-minute time frame to return dressed appropriately.