Mt. Vernon Register-News

August 28, 2013

Weber: Dress code authority limited to court rooms

By RICK HAYES rick.hayes@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — Resident Judge Jo Beth Weber has released a statement concerning the recently-adopted dress code at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

In her statement, Weber indicated, "i would like to make it clear that I did not institute a dress codes for the courthouse."

Weber said her authority over people's manner of dress is limited to court rooms, and the dress code signs she requested as resident circuit judge apply to court rooms only.

"Appropriate dress has always been required in every court room in our county. Appropriate attire is necessary to maintain the dignity, integrity, decorum, seriousness and professional atmosphere of the judicial process. Inappropriate attire has, in fact, resulted in court room disruptions, which impedes the efficient administration of justice," she stated. "However, particular limitations on court room attire has never been reduced in writing in Jefferson County, as has been in so many courts across the country, with the result of citizens entering courts with no prior notice as to whether the clothes they were wearing were suitable. People deserve such advance notice, and this was the reason for the publicized list of inappropriate attire and the signs as you enter the court rooms," she continued.

Weber said Jefferson County's court rooms are arguably the busiest in the Second Circuit, adding, "I have been working to fulfill my promise to the citizens of Jefferson County that I would make our court system operate more efficiently. This is coming about; and the dress code, which I limited to court rooms and which restricts only those types of attire which the majority of our citizens would not even consider wearing in court, will further assist in making Jefferson County courts operate more efficiently and effectively for everyone."

During Monday's County Board meeting, the dress code was addressed. The County Board — and specifically Chairman Robert White — said no discussions were conducted with the Board and Sheriff Roger Mulch, who announced the implementation of the dress code, which became effective on Aug. 19.

The Board suggested the sheriff meet with board members in the near future to clarify why the dress code was implemented and how the sheriff's office is policing it. Mulch told the Board he has heard nothing but positive response about the dress code, and then backed off on that statement, indicating two people had called voicing their disapproval of the dress code.

Dexter Edmison questioned the code during the "public input" portion of the meeting, asking, "Under what authority can one individual officeholder be dictorial? You are being footloose and free with the county's treasury," he said. Edmison added he has contacted the ACLU since he believes the dress code is a violation of people's rights.