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When Court Moves Online, Do Dress Codes Still Matter?

From The New York Times:

Justice is supposed to be blind. But in courtrooms, decorum matters.

Judges typically dress in somber black robes. Lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants are encouraged to dress modestly to signify credibility.

Does that change when court hearings are moved online to enable social distancing during the spread of the new coronavirus?

Absolutely not, according to one judge in Broward County, Fla. In a letter to lawyers that was made public last week, Judge Dennis Bailey of the 17th Judicial Circuit of Florida said that some lawyers were getting a little too lax.

“One male lawyer appeared shirtless and one female attorney appeared still in bed, still under the covers,” he wrote. “And putting on a beach cover-up won’t cover up you’re poolside in a bathing suit. So, please, if you don’t mind, let’s treat court hearings as court hearings, whether Zooming or not.”

For people who are working remotely, videoconferencing has introduced a new range of etiquette questions. Can you get away with wearing pajama bottoms to a virtual meeting? And can you look professional if you don’t have a bookshelf for a backdrop?

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