If you’re a fan of state officials wasting valuable time, resources, and mental energy over issues of decorum and etiquette, you’re going to love Wisconsin Judge Gene Gasiorkiewicz. The Journal Times (gavel bang: ABA Journal) reports that this new Racine County Circuit Court judge has hit the bench with all sorts of decorum rules for lawyers appearing in his courtroom.
Many of the new rules are of the dress-code nature that we’ve come to expect from judges more concerned with style than substance. Judge Gasiorkiewicz requires Reagan-esque “coat and tie” attire in his courtroom. And, of course, ladies must
have a mastectomy show absolutely no cleavage. We can’t have judges being distracted by barrel-chested men wearing mock turtlenecks or women with plunging necklines.
But while everybody is aware that judges have the attention span of goldfish and can be easily distracted by attorney attire, nobody expected Judge Gasiorkiewicz to take his Orwellian need for conformity all the way down to the level of beverage holders. But that’s because nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Lawyers appearing before Judge Gasiorkiewicz now must use court-issued mugs.
And Wisconsin lawyers don’t seem to be pitching a fit over it. Either these attorneys are as docile as dairy cows, or they’ve decided to “let the baby have his bottle”….
Here’s the lowdown on the new mug rules:
“I drink coffee all the time,” Gasiorkiewicz said. “It’s not that I want to prevent someone from having a beverage, but there were mugs, Super-Slurpee kind of things with straws coming out.”
He bought two big boxes of custom-printed plastic travel mugs. The silver mugs have the scales of justice in black on two sides, with the words “RACINE CIRCUIT COURT BRANCH 2″ printed beneath.
Gasiorkiewicz paid about $300 for the roughly 100 mugs – all “made in the U.S. of A.” – and said he will give every lawyer who comes before him their first mug free. If it gets lost, he said, the attorney’s on the hook for the replacement.
“They can put whatever they want inside it,” he said. “When it sits on the counsel table, it’s uniform.”
Christ almighty. I would love to get cited for contempt for not paying Gasiorkiewicz after I lost my court-issued mug during a Packers game. I’d consider taking the Wisconsin bar just to get a chance to show up in Gasiorkiewicz’s courtroom and have him hold me in contempt. I’d sue this joker in every court from SCOTUS to the freaking Hague, claiming I was being held as a political prisoner of a petty despot. I mean, he’s got an issue with straws? I know a courtroom is a judge’s own personal fiefdom, but there are natural laws being violated here.
At the very least, I’d slurp from my state sanctioned sippy-cup as LOUDLY AS POSSIBLE, and write “Judge Gasiorkiewicz’s wife is a screamer” on the bottom of my cup so he could see it every time I slurped my beverage.
But that’s just me. Too many people have fought too hard for too long for my freedom for me to just give it away because some state court judge has OCD when it comes to uniformity in his courtroom. Evidently attorneys in Wisconsin are far less revolutionary:
In general, attorneys said they didn’t have a problem with Gasiorkiewicz’s requirements…
Defense attorney Mark Richards – one of five attorneys The Journal Times spoke with – said he supports the changes.
“When I started the practice of law, and I hate to sound like a dinosaur walking among the young, but I started in Kenosha. You brought a coffee or newspaper to court and you would just get killed,” Richards said…
“As long as he doesn’t tell us to wear pink beanies, I think we’re OK. We can wear at least a sports coat and tie.”
Well, you know what, attorney Mark Richards — what’s to stop Judge Gasiorkiewicz from requiring you to wear pink beanies? Nothing. NOTHING. You give these kinds of obsessive control freaks an inch and they will take a mile. This judge requires authorized coffee mugs, that judge requires you to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, some of these judges don’t want you to wear peep-toe shoes — don’t you see where this is heading? This is supposed to be America, but these judges want to turn it into some kind of totalitarian police state where state court judges become the Platonic Guardians of order.
But don’t worry, attorney Mark Richards is okay with it as long as he doesn’t have to wear a pink beanie!
So fine, FINE. Enjoy drinking from your government-sanctioned mug, members of the Wisconsin bar. Enjoy lapping up this latest example of narcissism from a member of the judiciary. The Kool-Aid tastes even better when you let somebody else tell you how to drink it.
But I’ll end with a quote from Captain Jean-Luc Picard: “The line must be drawn here! This far and no further! And I will make them pay for what they’ve done!”
In Gasiorkiewicz’s courtroom, order is emphasized [JournalTimes]
Wisconsin Judge Has Dress Code for Lawyers and Beverages [ABA Journal]