original report at the Lake County NewsSun caught my attention. A 19 year old Chicago-area woman decided it was appropriate to show support for her girlfriend by coming to court attired in a t-shirt that proclaimed her possession of the t-shirt in the picture on the right.
While it sounds like the Judge may have reacted a little too quick in jailing the sartorially outspoken teenager, I'm not going to be shedding a whole lot of tears over the deprivation of her "freedom of speech," I know this will shock regular readers of this "blawg." Here's an excerpt from Beth Kramer's article:
"A Round Lake Park woman was held in contempt and jailed for two days for the message on her T-shirt.
The message was: 'I own the (female body part), so I make the rules.'
'They should be out looking for people who are breaking the law, not arresting someone wearing a T-shirt,' LaPenta said. Associate Judge Helen Rozenburg charged LaPenta with contempt of court for wearing the garment in her courtroom Monday. LaPenta was sitting in the gallery waiting for a friend's case to be called when the judge called her forward. Rozenburg asked LaPenta if she thought her shirt was appropriate. LaPenta said she told the judge that it would have been inaprorpriate had she been the defendant. Rozenburg immediately sentenced her to 48 hours in jail and had her cuffed, LaPenta said.
LaPenta contends that she never went to bond court or got to call her mother. 'They just threw me in jail. They never told me what I was going to jail for,' LaPenta said. LaPenta said that she had been at a gym Monday when her friend asked her for a ride to the courthouse. She was wearing sweat pants and that T-shirt when she was cuffed and jailed.
'All the officers thought it was hilarious -- it was humiliating,' LaPenta said.
LaPenta said she bought the shirt in the gay section of Spencer's. She said she is openly homosexual and said the judge was a 'homophobe' for putting her in custody for wearing the shirt. 'I'm shocked that the judge took the actions she did. She could have asked her to remove her shirt or leave the courtroom,' said Peter Kalagis, LaPenta's attorney. 'To me, that was an extreme action.' LaPenta said the judge did not give her an opportunity to turn her shirt inside out or exit the courtroom.
Rozenburg said she could not comment on this case. Chief Judge Victoria Rossetti confirmed that it was at the discretion of the court to determine what behavior constitutes contempt. She also said she could not comment on the case."
Seriously, folks you are not entitled to go into a courtroom with a placard proclaiming your obscene belief in any personal or political viewpoint. Free speech can be regulated as to time and place, and the courtroom is not the time and place.
My guess is that the Lake County Courthouse has posted rules (there usually are) relating to appropriate clothing which Miss LaPenta ignored. Should Miss LaPenta have been cuffed and incarcerated? No. But as I said I'm having a hard time mustering a whole lot of sympathy for her.
Over the years, I've been amazed at the apparel (or lack thereof) that clients or litigants wear to court. Setting aside t-shirts proclaiming political viewpoints which are always inappropriate, mere grooming would be nice. I'm long overdue to revisit "style diktats" this time, I will look at the larger question of appropriate clothing for clients. Soon, I promise...