Florida Supreme Court: Judicial Dress Code Requirements

The Florida Supreme Court is the final arbiter of legal issues in the state of Florida. They hear and decide cases ranging from personal injury to the legality of the death penalty. And recently they took on another role. The High Court established a new rule mandating what Florida judges can and cannot wear in court.

This rule establishing the new dress code for judges throughout the judicial system in Florida is part of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. These rules were first established in 1979 by the Supreme Court and their purpose is to provide for the speedy and inexpensive determination of administrative matters in each case that involves Florida courts. Florida judges and attorneys are bound to obey the rules while in Florida court.

What the Rule Does

The new rule is rule 2.340 of the Judicial Administration Rules. In short, the rule requires that judges in Florida courts wear black robes with no embellishments. This means that judges are not allowed any frills, colored robes, additions, or other enhancements to their robes. While it will not mean a big change for most judges, some judges who choose to wear different colored robes or robes with small embellishments will no longer be able to do so.

Before the rule went into effect the court asked for comments on the proposed rule. Most of the comments either agreed with the court or did not find a problem with the rule that would make all judge attire uniform. But one commenter wondered whether the need to establish this rule meant that the Florida Supreme Court did not trust the judgement of other Florida judges. In establishing the rule, the court addressed this and several other issues.

Rationale for the Rule

Addressing the comment that the court does not trust the judgement of Florida judges, the court made clear that they have every confidence in Florida’s judicial branch, but they reasoned that the new rule was needed for a variety of reasons. The most important reason was that the court feels that all judges in Florida must enhance the public trust and confidence in the judicial branch of Florida’s government.

The court gave an example in their opinion of why it was important that all judges wear the same color and style of robe. If for example a defendant were facing the death penalty, how would they feel if their judge walked into court with a red robe? Should the defendant be scared that the judge would not give him a fair case? Or the judge could walk into court with a green robe. Would that make a defendant feel like the judge would be more lenient?

In establishing a uniform dress code for all judges, the court is trying to do away with the individuality of a judge when it comes to his or her job. And a judge’s job, after all, is to look at the fact and law of a case and make an impartial decision. The High Court feels like a uniform dress code will help the public feel like the decision a court makes is the same or similar decision they would get in another courtroom.

At The Pittman Firm we are experienced in Florida’s courtrooms. Our entire practice is built on going to court and fighting on behalf of victims of negligence. If you have been injured due to another’s negligence, contact us. We will go over your case, answer your questions, and provide you with your legal options.

See related blog posts: Florida Supreme Court to Decide on Attorney’s Fees Case; Florida Courts: An Overview.

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