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Judge takes exception to trial attendee’s cursing T-shirt

TEXARKANA, Texas — An observer in court for a family member’s felony pretrial hearing this week found himself standing before the judge because of an unfortunate wardrobe choice.

The 18-year-old man sitting several rows back in a first-floor courtroom of the Bi-State Justice Building in downtown Texarkana was called forward by 202nd District Judge John Tidwell because of what was on his T-shirt.

“Apparently I have an attitude. Who f— knew,” the shirt read.

Tidwell apparently did not care for the T-shirt‘s sentiment.

“We are a court of law here. When I was elected, I made one promise: to treat everybody with respect and dignity,” Tidwell said. “And I expect everyone in this courtroom to treat the court with dignity and respect.”

Tidwell asked bailiffs to escort the young man to a secure area of the courthouse where inmates waiting for their turn before the judge are held. After conducting a few hearings, Tidwell asked the bailiffs to bring the man back in front of the bench.

When the young man returned, his T-shirt was turned inside out and pulled back on over his white undershirt.

Tidwell asked him to display the lettering so the judge could read the words into the court’s official record.

Tidwell described the shirt as disparaging and admonished the man, “That’s not the message you need to be sending.”

He allowed the young man to leave with a warning to dress appropriately should he return.

Defendants and family or friends attending their court proceedings may be sent away from courtrooms for clothing that is either offensive, revealing or simply too casual. Spaghetti straps, sleeveless tops and muscle shirts aren’t appropriate. Neither are shorts, flip flops or other open-toed shoes. Also, leave your hat and sunglasses in the car with your phone.

Crop tops, strapless dresses, low-cut blouses and exercise wear are not courtroom attire. Sequins and flashy accessories may send the wrong message. Short dresses and mini skirts, ripped jeans and dirty, smelly garments should be left at home.

And yes, T-shirts, especially those with profanity, beer logos, marijuana leaves or sexual references, should be avoided or at least turned inside out before — not after — entering a courtroom or courthouse.