Monday, September 20, 2010

Giving it the boot

Well, I decided that, I'd get my cowboy hat
and go down to Marble Arch Station.
'Cause when a Texan fancies, he'll take his chances,  
and chances will be takin, now that's for sure.  
And them Limey eyes, they were eyein' a prize,  
that some people call manly footwear.  
And they said you're from down South,  
and when you open your mouth,  
you always seem to put your foot there.

"London Homesick Blues" -- Gary P. Nunn

There's a showdown a-brewing up over in Lakeway (a resort community near Austin) over a municipal judge's aspirations to be the legal community's Jerry Blackwell. The Honorable Kevin Madison presides over Lakeway's Municipal Court of Record No. One and has decreed that it is inappropriate for lawyers to wear cowboy boots in the courtroom.

The court also requires all attorneys practicing in the court to sign a form indicating that they have read the local rules and promising to abide by them.

What was that, you say? You heard me right, a judge in a Texas court has banned the wearing of cowboy boots. I never knew it was optional. If I remember correctly when I took the oath to get my law license, I think I swore at some point to never walk into a Texas courtroom NOT wearing boots. I'll need to pull the oath out from the back of my license to verify that -- but I'm pretty certain it says something like that.
"Counsel shall be dressed appropriately while in attendance of the Court, which means a coat and tie with dress slacks, socks, and dress shoes for men and dress, blouse and skirt with hosiery, or business dress slacks and dress shoes for women. No blue jeans or cowboy boots will be worn by counsel." -- Lakeway Municipal Court Local Rule No. 5.
How on earth can a Texas lawyer dress "appropriately" without the requisite manly footwear?

Apparently the judge has since backed off on holding a lawyer in contempt for wearing boots into his courtroom -- but, as if often the case with anyone attached to the government, the "new" rule is worse than the old one. The judge told a report from the Austin American-Statesman that it was okay to wear boots in the courtroom as long as they were "nice" boots.

And who's going to make that decision? Instead of a black and white rule (no matter how un-Texan it may be) the judge has decided to make himself the arbiter of taste in the Lakeway Municipal Court.

See also:

"Well-heeled Lakeway should give court rule the boot" Austin American-Statesman, Sept. 18, 2010.
"Lawyers balk at Lakeway court ban on cowboy boots" Austin American-Statesman, Sept. 19, 2010.

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