Thursday, September 8, 2016

"We would prefer our clients not look like disheveled slackers in front of the jury''

"Ammon Bundy's lawyer argues for his client's right to wear cowboy boots at trial"
The judge advised Philpot (Ammon Bundy's lawyer) to file a motion by the end of the day Tuesday, and cite any prior court rulings on the matter.

Philpot, in his motion, said he and co-counsel Marcus Mumford were not able to find a U.S. Supreme Court or U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals case on point that declared a defendant's right to be tried in the clothes of his choosing.

Instead, they cited a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found because of a defendant's presumption of innocence, "(n)o insinuations, indications or implications suggesting guilt should be displayed before the jury, other than admissible evidence and permissible argument."

Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan Bundy both wore suit jackets to court Tuesday because the court took photos of them to place in a juror's book that will be handed out at trial. Ammon Bundy wore a gray suit jacket over a white dress shirt. His brother wore a dark suit jacket over a light blue dress shirt.

"He looks very presentable,'' the judge said of Ammon Bundy.

She described his clothing as "perfectly appropriate for court.''

But Philpot argued in his written motion that the judge's opinion was based on a view of Ammon Bundy seated. Yet at trial, he will stand and likely take the witness stand to testify in his own defense, his lawyer said.

"We must consider, when he does so, how will he look? And what are the spot assumptions and impressions will the jury have about him when they see him in the kind of white socks and loafers he was wearing today, with his beltless trousers, and dressed in a formal suit without a tie,'' Philpot wrote. "Just as significantly, how will the lack of belt, tie, or other apparel compare to others in the courtroom, as he and the other detained defendants are the only ones who will appear that way.'' (read the whole thing)


edutcher said...

Usually, you wear a suit, but, if somebody wants to look otherwise, I'd say that's their right.

This judge must hate cowboys.

Typical Lefty.

Leland said...

I would say unless they are in some sort of protective custody (needing shackles, because they've proven themselves to be a danger otherwise, like a previous conviction or attempted escape); you should be able to wear whatever is allowed in the courthouse otherwise. I understand banning a bandolier of bullets or a full face burka; but boots? IMO, if the defendant facing the court wanted to wear a bikini or burkini; that would be their choice. A dumb idea, but their choice, and lets face it, most are lottery winners in the IQ game.

Amartel said...

Below are some material points from the article. They're being tried in Portlandia in federal court.

"Ammon Bundy remarked in court that he's never even worn slip-on shoes or loafers before court on Tuesday."

"On August 27, the U.S. Marshal's Service sent an email to defendants, alerting them that certain clothing items won't be permitted at trial: 'Ties, Bows, Belts, Handkerchiefs, Cuff Links, Steel toe boots/shoes, Shoe laces, Shirt tie down straps, Safety pins, Shirt pocket pen protectors.'"

"As a result, Ammon Bundy arranged to wear non-steel toe boots but was informed those aren't allowed either."

"U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown Tuesday afternoon asked Barbara Alfono, the deputy U.S marshal in charge of the Bundy trial, about the dress code."

"Alfono said the defendants who are in custody cannot wear ties, boots or belts as safety precautions."

"Those accessories could be used as weapons against deputy marshals or the defendants themselves, she said. Further, the defendants will be wearing shackles around their ankles when they're taken to and from the courthouse, and boots would interfere with them. Those shackles, however, will be removed once the defendants are in the courtroom."

"Philpot pressed further in court Tuesday, asking if he could provide boots for his client to change into once he's led into the courtroom, and before the jury is brought in."

"The judge advised Philpot to file a motion by the end of the day Tuesday, and cite any prior court rulings on the matter."

Sounds like the Marshalls need to man up a bit. It's just boots and there's no precedent for these men acting violently in court. There's also no controlling authority that says all defendants have to resemble lawyers ("disheveled slackers" haha) and wear a suit. Om fact, when people try to look like something they're not they just look uncomfortable. I tell clients to wear what they would wear to their kid's graduation at court. (And, yes, I do check what that is before it shows up in court!) These men should be able to appear as their authentic selves without the federal deputies laying an egg regarding security. If some gangsters on trial wanted to dress like gangsters and wear track suits and haul their oxygen tanks into court with them you know there would not be this sort of concern storm.

Amartel said...

There was a story recently about a criminal defendant, I believe in Nevada, who wanted to have his swastika face tattoos covered in make-up for trial, an expensive procedure day in-day out for the length of the trial. My response was that he was the one who chose the ink so he should have to live with it or, at the very least, pay for his own make up. This is consistent with my response to this story. Court is not theater and the judge should not be making calls about how the players should be costumed outside of basic decency standards.