Basic Black Is Best

     One day you’re in and the next day you’re out.
     If anyone even remotely associated with “Project Runway” is reading this, please pass this column on to whomever decides on the contestant challenges.
     The designers must come up with a creative and fashion-forward – sexy but serious – robe for the modern judge who wants to make an impact in her or his courtroom.
     Will the winner be a show-stopping full-length draped chiffon cobalt blue number with a high waist that could be worn in court or on the red carpet?
     Or will the judges prefer a more form-fitting print with hints of skin? Something that says the wearer could satisfyingly sustain you but watch out for her/his overruling side.
     I really want to see this episode.
     Those of you who did the homework assigned last week will understand why I feel this way. If you didn’t, you can catch up by reading a mysterious – and completely wrong – ruling from the Florida Supreme Court called In Re: Amendments to the Florida Rules of Judical Administration – New Rule 2.340.
     I don’t often come right out and say a ruling is just plain wrong, but I’m making an exception here. This is outrageous.
     The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that all Florida judges must wear plain black robes.
     No other colors. No embellishments.
     Just black.
     There will be no individuality, no creativity, and no soothing vibes in Florida courtrooms. All will be plain and somber.
     Why?
     It’s very mysterious. In fact, the ruling is mysterious within the first six words: “The Court, on it own motion …”
     WTF?!?
     No one complained? No one brought this to the attention of the court?
     The Florida Supreme Court justices suddenly woke up one morning and decided they needed to do something about the riot of color in state courthouses?
     How does such a thing happen and why were there no hearings on this issue?
     Well, there may be an answer in the ruling to the latter question. It just may be that no one outside the Supreme Court cared about this issue – or maybe couldn’t believe the court was thinking about it.
     This is an excerpt from the ruling: “The Conference of County Court Judges has no comment on the rule. The Conference of Circuit Court Judges reports that it takes no position on the rule. … The Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges does not see a need for the rule. … Other commenters question the need for the rule or its application.”
     Responding to overwhelming indifference, the Florida Supreme Court leaped into action.
     The ruling goes on at some length to claim that black judicial robes instill public trust and confidence – but come on.
     Are we supposed to trust some guy who can’t be trusted to choose his/her clothes?
     How is this logical?
     Said the ruling: “Presiding judges wearing different colored robes or robes with varying embellishments could result in uncertainty for those coming before our courts and serve to counter the efforts the branch has employed to gain the public’s trust. …
     “Depending on the color or pattern of the robe or the type of embellishment worn, some may wonder whether the presiding judge is ‘real judge’ or whether the judge will take the proceedings seriously.”
     OK, if the guy is wearing a clown suit and a red nose, I might wonder. But as long as there are bailiffs and kowtowing lawyers, I’m probably not going to question the authority.
     There’s more: “Robe color also could be seen as a reflection of a judge’s mood or attitude that day.”
     So of course we’re going to want to see the judge in black.
     This can’t be a widespread issue. Go online and try to find judicial robes.
     Try say judgerobes.com or judicialshop.com. Notice a common thread(s)?
     Yep. All the robes are black.
     We need your help, Project Runway.

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