Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

All pants rise for judge of dignity

You'd think a courthouse would be dripping with dignity, all those somber black-robed judges, those life-changing decisions, that high-minded legalese.

Truth is, on busy days local courthouses are like city bus stations, people of all stripe milling about, a child (and occasional adult) wailing in the hall, lawyers bustling around importantly, everyone headed somewhere (or nowhere) fast.

And so it was in the Hillsborough County courthouse last week that Circuit Judge Dan Perry finally had enough.

Enough of a world where flip-flops are considered appropriate for funerals.

Enough of pajamas at the grocery and beachwear on planes.

Enough of seeing more of a person's person than you ever wanted.

Enough.

Oh, wait, that's me. Probably the judge doesn't give a lick about what other people wear in public. A courtroom is another matter.

Enough, the judge said, of inmates baring their butts (or, technically, their jail-issued bunchy boxers) over their deliberately oversized orange jail pants. Which, by the way, has to be the dumbest fashion statement ever.

No doubt you've seen it: a kid in britches so big and worn so low that his underwear-covered rear sticks out above the waistband, giving you full view of his tighty-whities or other underthings of choice. It is said to have begun as a show of solidarity with jail inmates in their beltless baggy pants — just the guys you'd want to emulate — but apparently inmates themselves started exaggerating the style and wearing 5X pants on their 32-inch waists.

Not just inmates. You'd be amazed at what people wear to court, T-shirts from profane to pornographic. Someone with a drug charge shows up in, I am not making this up, a shirt printed with a big marijuana leaf. A guy with a DUI sports a Budweiser belt buckle. Before the Great Underwear Uprising (so to speak), a woman came to Judge Perry's court in a shirt proclaiming something SUCKS. No one could remember later what it was that SUCKS, just that apparently it really SUCKS.

Judge Perry, a man of dry humor, runs probation court, also called Excuse Court. People accused of violating probation often come before him because they have tested positive for drugs. The conversation can begin something like, "See, what happened was …" and end in "And that's the truth, judge." It would not be an exaggeration to say he has heard about everything, from improbable to heartbreaking to outright lies.

He has been known to hammer people and to give a break. A man on probation for running a red light and killing a Secret Service agent had one chance, then another. The third time, Perry put him in prison. Enough.

The bared underwear situation had been going on a while, with inmates black and white. One day an inmate stood up and his pants did not. Last week, the judge had it. He postponed court and sent the inmates back to jail for proper attire. When a fellow came in all undies-out the next day, the judge did it again. The jail has vowed to fix the situation.

In this, the judge won a small victory for dignity and decorum in the courtroom. He should not have to say butts must be covered, but those of us who have seen enough are glad he did.

All pants rise for judge of dignity 09/13/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 5:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Late night update: Second wave follows Tropical Storm Harvey

    Hurricanes

    UPDATE: At 11 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  3. Stealth anti-Jack Latvala group tied to Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    Politico reports:

     A longtime political consultant for Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is behind a website calling one of his rivals in the race, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a “liberal.”

  4. Council gives in to pension dispute with St. Pete firefighters

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council was forced to consider its first labor dispute in years Thursday when it gave the firefighters union most of the pension enhancements it has long asked for.

    The firefighters’ union won a pension victory at Thursday’s City Council meeting. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  5. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE

    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.