Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Never Dress Nice For Court


Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

What Do I Wear In Court?

Now, for example, let’s say all the discovery in your case is done and you are ready to go to a proceeding that is going to be a fish or cut bait day. It is your chance to either take a plea bargain, reject a plea bargain, plead straight up to the court and go to sentencing, or on the other hand, announce ready for trial.

What do you wear to court? What do you wear to court if it is a motion to continue? If it is done correctly, in my opinion, you will not even go to court for a motion to continue because you will have signed a waiver of speedy trial, which gives the court no concern about a speedy trial violation. The speedy trial rule was created because prosecutors, back in the day, would literally keep people in jail longer than the maximum sentence. That does not happen anymore. I have not seen it happen one single time in my career. But if you sign a waiver of speedy trial, continuances can often be granted without a court appearance. And in fact, I have many cases that are resolved without my client ever going to court at all. However, we cannot assume that. We have to assume the worst and we have to assume that you will go to court.

One time, I was at a Northwest Florida courthouse and in-between the main doors, right before the second set of doors that go actually into the courtroom, there is a little space in-between. And as I was going from one set of doors to the other, I heard one lawyer say to his client, “Now remember, we have got a jury to pick on Monday. Dress nice for court”. Let’s back that up a little bit. Never dress nice for court. Whatever you do, do not dress nice for court. Under no circumstances do you ever dress nice for court; you dress exactly according to dress instructions for court.

What the heck is that? Every client that we represent gets a copy of Dress Instructions for Court because here is why. People decide things based upon their beliefs. In criminal court, the truth does not matter. Did that lawyer just say the truth does not matter? All witnesses are sworn to tell the truth, everybody should tell the truth, and you sure do not want to be lying when giving testimony. That is called a fast way to get three hots and a cot and maximum sentencing.

What I am talking about is not about lying in court or being deceptive but think of it this way. You have a fundamentalist Christian banister, you have a very hardcore Islamic cleric, and you also have a very militant atheist and you are going to hook them up to the most advanced lie detectors in the world, they are all three going to show up as positive when you ask “What happens when you die?” All three are going to show up as telling the truth but all three of those answers cannot possibly be the same. That is because the truth is determined based upon what people believe. The officer is going to make a decision whether or not to arrest based upon a belief. The judge is going to make a legal ruling based upon what the judge believes the law is. The prosecutor is going to offer this plea bargain or that plea bargain based upon what they believe. So, when we are talking about the truth in criminal court, I am certainly not saying to lie, that is a disaster; what I am saying is understand that we are talking about beliefs. And this is also true about what you wear to court.

When they do mock trials and they use 12-person juries for mock trials, they have all of these microphones that are hidden, all these cameras that are hidden and a group of actors that put on this trial and this trial is designed to be fifty-fifty like you would never find a real case in life. So, what happens is they change one or two variables with the different people in the trial to see how it affects the jury. And after the jury votes, they bring in another jury and another jury and they do these things literally hundreds of times. And so, here is why I say you never dress nice for court. If you take a male defendant and that male defendant is in a navy suit with short hair and no facial hair, you get the highest level of acquittal. Change just two variables, put that male defendant in any other suit but navy and put any type of facial hair on that defendant, do you know what happens? The acquittal rate drops and the conviction rate goes up over 25%. It is not fair, it is not logical, it is not right. That is how it really is and that is exactly why you never dress nice for court. You dress exactly correct for court. And women, this means you too.

I know that what I have on dress instructions for the court is not stylish, it is not cool, it is not cute, it is not in fashion, I do not care. You can wear it for as many times as it takes to complete your case because how you act, how you dress and how you feel are going to critically affect the outcome in your case or the case of someone you love.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

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Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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