Trials & Litigation

Judge fines man $50 for saggy pants despite lawyer's claim they revealed gym shorts


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Called up in front of a Pennsylvania district judge, told to turn around and then ordered to exit the courtroom and return after he’d pulled up his saggy pants, 18-year-old Adam Dennis complied.

But a subsequent wardrobe malfunction the same day, in which his pants again descended to a level deemed unacceptable in court, resulted in a May 7 contempt charge by a Bethlehem judge, the Morning Call reports.

Although Lehigh County’s chief public defender, Kimberly Makoul, argued on his behalf that Dennis’ pants didn’t disrupt court and that the white material spotted above his dropped waistband was gym shorts rather than underwear, District Judge Wayne Maura was not persuaded. He imposed a $50 fine on Dennis on Monday. An appeal is likely, Makoul told the newspaper.

Signs outside and inside Maura’s courtroom warn entrants to “Pull your pants up!” and warn that those with “exposed undergarments” or “excessive exposure of any private body areas” cannot appear in court.

A spokesman for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts said judges have a duty to maintain order and decorum in their courts and have discretion to exclude individuals from the courtroom based on their choice of dress.

Nonetheless, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania expressed concern.

“Courtrooms are open, and any member of the public can go in, and you can’t be disorderly or disruptive,” Mary Catherine Roper told the newspaper. “But, it’s really contrary to the idea of an open courtroom to tell you what you can wear and what your fashion choices can be while in the courtroom.”

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Judge’s Sign Warns Defendants to Pull Up Their Saggy Pants”

ABAJournal.com: “Ala. Judge’s 3-Day Saggy Pants Sentence Is Talk of Town; Judge, Court Clerk Stunned by Interest”

Al.com: “Prattville man found shot to death was jailed in early 2012 for having saggy pants “

Montgomery Advertiser: “Jury Finds Deramus Guilty In Shooting Death “

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