Knoxville (WVLT) - If you're heading to one Knox County courtroom, you'd better make sure you dress appropriately.
A list of courtroom rules, mainly dealing with "proper attire," is now posted on the door leading into criminal court division three.
It's all about respect for the courts.
Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz says the better the courtroom decorum, the better the mind set of people, the better off we are.
It's pretty much a typical day at the City-County Building. Except for what people are seeing on the door entering Criminal Court Division Three.
A woman wearing a tank top and shorts doesn't meet the new dress code guidelines and must wait outside the courtroom until her case is called. "I just said it's 100-degrees outside and you can't have shorts and a tank top? Like I'm gonna put a winter coat on to come to court,” says the woman who asked not to be identified.
Courtroom rules were posted Wednesday morning and it's news to some folks.
"I can't even go in till my lawyer comes out,” she says.
But not to others.
"I replaced George Balitsaris. He had these rules. This isn't anything new,” says Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz. “This is something that we've let slide over time."
The slide just stopped. No more shorts, muscle shirts, baggy or low-riding pants or hats, bandanas, hairnets or hoods. Sunglasses, see through clothing, backless or halter tops are also on the "no wear" list. As well as some other items.
"We don't need gum under every seat. We don't want spilled drinks. So that these rules really incorporate a little bit of all of that,” Judge Leibowitz says.
The main objective is improved courtroom decorum.
"Some of the dress that people wear for court is just totally inappropriate for court. We'd like to see that adopted by all the courts,” says Knox County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant James Carson.
For now, it's just in the Leibowitz court. However, other judges we spoke with said they have similar "unspoken" rules. Will it eventually go building-wide?
"When I put down the rules about cigarettes, nobody thought it was going building-wide. But it did,” says Judge Leibowitz.
Violators get a warning. And it applies to everybody in the Leibowitz courtroom. Everybody.
"It's for everybody. And it includes me,” Judge Leibowitz says.
However, Judge Leibowitz is making one exception. Since she is on the bench for long periods of time, she says she reserves the right to keep a cup of coffee close by.
Below are the rules posted outside the judge’s courtroom.
EVERYONE ENTERING SHALL BE DRESSED IN PROPER ATTIRE – NO SHORTS, MUSCLE SHIRTS, BAGGY OR LOW RIDING PANTS. NO HATS, BANDANAS HAIRNETS, OR HOODS. NO SEE THROUGH CLOTHING, BACKLESS OR HALTER TOPS, OR SUNGLASSES.
NO TALKING TO INMATES OR COMMUNICATION OF ANY KIND IS PERMITTED.
NO FOOD, DRINKS, CHEWING GUM OR NEWSPAPERS ALLOWED IN THE COURTROOM.
USE OF CELL PHONES IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. IF YOU HAVE AN EMERGENCY SITUATION, PLACE YOUR CELL PHONE ON VIBRATE AND GO OUT OF THE COURTROOM TO ANSWER.
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