Judges, you gotta love ‘em … or not.
There were two incidents last week in my neck of the woods that I found interesting that involved judges. First, a judge assisted the bailiff in taking a hat from someone in court, and second, another judge declared that the state SHALL NOT make any offers to my client because he made the ridiculous request of asking for a jury trial.
With respect to the first incident, I got to court late (which is very rare for me, because I like to get to court do my business and leave), and while I was standing in a line of attorneys waiting to be heard by the judge, the bailiff yelled at someone to take his hat off. After the incident I was told this was the second time that the person came into court with his hat on.
Now I don’t know where the whole, you must remove your hat in court thing came from. While some might tell you that it is a show of disrespect to wear your hat in a courtroom, I can think of a lot of other ways to more effectively show your disrespect of the court. And, having a rule that you must remove your hat in court lest you show some disrespect of the court strikes me as a typical dumb rule like we have in today’s society. This rule for example doesn’t stop those who want to show disrespect, and it catches people who forget they have a hat on. Further it gives the bailiff an opportunity to bark at someone for wearing a hat in front of everyone assembled in the courtroom, thereby proving that he has some sort of authority over that space (which I had no luck finding in either the US Constitution or the Illinois Compiled Statutes). I mean, I don’t want to be too cute here, I know that the court security officer is there to protect the judge from attack, to arrest or jail someone on the order of a judge, and to keep order in the courtroom … but it seems to me that yelling at a guy because he forgot to take off his hat is just an exercise in showing everyone that I can yell at some one and act mad (with impunity and a gun).
So that’s the set up. Guy walks into court with his hat on for the second time (demonstrating that he forgot about the hat) but somehow showing grave disrespect to the court. So the guy sits down and takes off his hat, and looks appropriately embarrassed because he got yelled at by the bailiff. (Just like in elementary school, except for we are not in school). The situation is over, except for now the judge wants to participate in this showing that they can yell at someone to everyone present. The judge yells, “Sir, come up here.” Then, “Give the Bailiff your hat!”
Mission Accomplished: I can yell therefore I have authority.
So I was entering my appearance on a case in front a judge. I requested a police report, anything that they might use at trial and asked for a jury trial date. The judge then commanded the state’s attorney to make no offers to my client because we had asked for a jury trial. It seemed odd. I ask for jury trials in felony cases routinely and no judge has ever commanded that the State make no offers to my client.
Doesn’t matter, the offers from the State in that courtroom I probably wouldn’t recommend my client accept anyway.
Just another day in paradise.
Here’s a youtube video of a person appearing in court with what appears to be a colonial three corner hat, I am pretty sure they didn’t ask him to remove it because he is a little out there, so to speak.
Law Dude, Ray Flavin, represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock.