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Bar News - June 23, 2006

Response: Shabby Dressers Hurt Only Themselves

At times, especially after reading the [Portsmouth Herald] editorial regarding courtroom dress, I wonder if the reason I continue to read it is nostalgia for the wretchedness of its writing and that quaint small-mindedness, I mean, small-town style. I have occasionally sent off an e-mail over the years but usually console myself with uncommonly warranted low expectations with which I have grown accustomed. I only receive an occasional response, often from an indignant writer that my complaint had irked — something I completely respect and appreciate.


To clarify for the editor of this wonderful rag, I have not died for my country. Though not posthumously complaining, I would posit that not a single person who has died for this, or any other country, ever gave a damn what defendants wore in court. The following quote, which appeared in the online version of the Portsmouth Herald on May 12:


“Remember, Americans have died face down in the mud to make our country free and just. Our courtrooms are a daily celebration of that sacred memory,” is so utterly absurd that I gasped the first three times I read the passage. The editorial was written for an elementary school newspaper, no? I would never go to court for whatever reason in anything less than a shirt and tie. Though I have only ever gone as a prospective juror, I do this because I recognize that we are, like books, judged by our cover. Who cares if a defendant dresses shabbily, as long as they do so legally? Their “lack of respect” will only hurt them with the judge and/or jury of their peers.


Who in the world is ignorant and shallow enough to equate how defendants dress in court and their corresponding diminished level of respect for said court to people who have sacrificed their lives for “our” country? For shame when there are Americans who have died for what they believed was to ensure their fellow citizens’ freedom and justice.


Please, for all of our sakes, seriously consider not allowing the escaped circus clown, or lower order primate, that wrote the referenced editorial to ever do so again.


Scott Behen

Former Portsmouth resident currently

residing in Long Beach, Calif.


Reprinted with permission from the Portsmouth Herald, May 19, 2006.

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