U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Massie Tillman has banned female lawyers and witnesses from wearing pants in his Tarrant County, Texas courtroom. New courtroom rules that went into effect Monday stated, “Women are to wear a dress, skirt and jacket or skirt and blouse in the courtroom. women are not to wear pants or pantsuits.”
While many judges, lawyers associations, and schools require “conservative business dress” and have discouraged women from wearing slacks, Tillman is the first known judge to have banned women from wearing pants as part of an official, written policy. Dan Schweitzer of the National Association of Attorneys General said that he doesn’t recommend slacks for women and encourages men to stick to dark suits and white shirts. “It’s just a social question of what we consider to be conservative dress,” said Schweitzer.
Mollee Westfall is a felony prosecutor with Tarrant County’s district attorney’s office. Westfall feels that anyone who dares to require women to wear skirts “should just try it for themselves for a few days and see how they like it.” Westfall complained that skirts limit women’s flexibility, making it harder for them to act out crime scenes or pick up heavy items. “You can’t exactly take the kinds of positions that you might be able to in pants,” she explained. Westfall also noted that courtrooms are frequently cold and drafty, since they are “set for the comfort level of the judge who is in a wool robe.”