What is the deal with courtroom dress code?

By Kristen Baldwin
Updated October 30, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

Q: On the Oct. 19 episode of Ally McBeal, a judge sends Ally (Calista Flockhart) to jail for refusing to wear a longer skirt. Could he really do that?

A: You bet your gavel she’d get in trouble, though jail would be a stretch. While lawyers don’t adhere to an official dress code, says Long Island-based attorney Kathleen DeLessio, ”if [a skirt] is that short, I think most judges would find it inappropriate.” Retired New York State Supreme Court judge Bentley Kassal agrees, saying a judge ”could cite her because in his eyes [the skirt] was conduct unbecoming an attorney.” Even so, Kassal says it would take a lot more than a hemline for him to land a lawyer in the pokey. ”If she came in bare-breasted, that would clearly be offensive. But short skirts — never in a thousand years.”

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