Scott County cracking down on attire for courtroom

Thursday, February 7, 2013

BENTON, Mo. -- Appropriate dress will soon be a requirement for court appearances in Benton.

Christy Hency, circuit court clerk for Scott County, advised the county commission during its regular meeting Tuesday that she is drafting a dress code for the 33rd Circuit Court in Benton.

"It's coming but I don't have it finalized yet," Hency said. "We're working on it this week."

After the meeting, Hency discussed the idea with Circuit Judge David A. Dolan and the two associate division judges in Scott County, Scott Horman and Hense Winchester.

All three judges indicated they will support a dress code, Hency said.

A dress code is enforceable, Hency advised commissioners: "Bailiffs have full authority to send someone home," she said.

Hency said the idea of establishing a dress code for court appearances was discussed at a National Center for State Courts certification seminar she attended.

"A lot of people are showing up in pajamas," Hency said. "There needs to be a more respectful appearance brought into the courtroom and I think the judges all feel the same way."

Some courts in the area have already established some restrictions on clothing, according to Hency.

"Cape County doesn't allow shorts, doesn't allow flip flops," she said.

Allowances will be made for "people who are coming straight from work," Hency said. "We don't expect them to go home, take a shower and change. They are working and we have to respect that."

Hency said she already has an idea of some clothing items that are sure to be addressed in the dress code: "Tank tops, shirts with offensive advertising or sayings, flip flops, pajama pants -- those will no longer be acceptable," she said.

Hency said that while discussing the idea for a dress code with Horman, they agreed it should be established now as the judicial building renovation project is nearing completion -- a project that also includes features to make it a safer environment.

"It seemed to us like it was the right time," she said. "This is a big change and we know it's a big change."

Hency said they will make every effort to inform the public.

"When people get summoned to court for any reason, there will be notification to them advising of the dress code," she said.

But after a grace period where citizens are advised of the new requirement, "they will send them home if their attire is in violation," Hency said.

Pertinent address:

Benton, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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