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Judge And Lawyer Argue Over “Tie.” Who Wins?

In almost every jurisdiction, male lawyers must wear a jacket and tie when they appear in court. The idea is to appear dignified and professional – we are, after all, officers of the court. Most attorneys would probably agree that the courtroom is not the place to make a fashion statement.

Tom Cherryhomes, a New Mexico family lawyer, felt otherwise. Per the court,

On September 13, 1991, Cherryhomes appeared in Judge Shuler’s courtroom to represent a client in a child abuse/neglect proceeding. Cherryhomes was wearing a short-sleeved, conventional dress shirt with the neck unbuttoned. He had a light blue piece of cloth or bandanna tied around his neck, above his collar, and he was not wearing a jacket.

Judge Schuler reminded Mr. Cherryhomes that ties were required attire in his courtroom. Per the court:

[Cherryhomes] said he was wearing a tie, even if Judge Shuler did not like his choice, and referred to a book on nineteenth century western wear and a dictionary definition of “tie,” which he had brought with him. Judge Shuler disagreed with Cherryhomes’s interpretation of the meaning of the local rules requirement of a tie, and found Cherryhomes in contempt, fining him $50.

Cherryhomes requested a hearing, and an opportunity to explain himself. The Judge agreed. Shockingly, the Judge agreed with himself! Based on what you know of this lawyer so far, do you think he appealed? He did. And who do you think won?

You didn’t really think the lawyer would win this, did you? The Judge’s decision was affirmed. The court disagreed with Cherryhomes’ arguments that (1) the “tie” rule violated his First Amendment right to free expression, and (2) his choice of neckwear caused no disruption to the decorum of the court. (“Bandana tie sparks revolution; New Mexico secedes from the Union!”)

The case is State v. Cherryhomes, 840 P.2d 1261 (N.M.App. 1992).

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