I’m sure you’ve heard many times how important it is to dress conservatively when you interview for a job. It has a purpose: to show respect for your interviewer and to show you in a professional light.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I’m in court every day on jury duty. I’m a member of a grand jury which hears several cases in each session and then votes for or against indictment. The process is simple: the assistant U.S. district attorneys briefly present each case, they bring a witness, then the jury debates in private. If we have further questions, we ask the lawyer in the case to bring back the witness and ask the questions. Then we deliberate some more and finally we vote.
It has surprised me how poorly dressed the witnesses are for a court environment. They are detectives and officers of different government agencies (U.S.marshals, immigration, police, etc.) and they wear jeans and sweatshirts and overshirts and sneakers.
I find that their carelessness sends a message of disrespect to jurors –who are asked to dress conservatively– and it is also a commentary on what this process is all about. A one sided view of the case with the assistants U.S. district attorney bringing evidence against the defendants and the jurors not having a real way of weighting the evidence that is being presented.
These witnesses seem to have no need to impress because they are taking for granted that their expertise and their word is enough to indict on “probable cause”, the standard in a Grand Jury versus “beyond reasonable doubt” needed at a trial.
No matter what the occasion is, the way you dress always sends a message to others. Disrespect and contempt is not one you want to send lightly.