Art, Fashion, Holly Hollenbeck, Shoes

Lawyer Fined $1,000 For His Shoes

Would you wear these to court?

The plot of The Shawshank Redemption revolves around the line, “I mean, seriously, how often do you really look at a man’s shoes?” Should I have prefaced that with a spoiler alert? No, you’ve had 19 years to watch it.

But poor Andy Dufresne might still be incarcerated if he were in Romania, where a judge slapped a lawyer with a fine in excess of $1,000 for wearing sneakers to court.

And the whole thing went down during the criminal trial over a high-end art heist.

Romania seems way more interesting than the U.S. these days….

The troubles for Catalin Dancu began with being late to the trial:

A lawyer found he couldn’t sneak into court late, at least not wearing jeans and blue suede sneakers.

Judge Ioan Adrian Chitoiu slapped defence lawyer Catalin Dancu with a fine of 5,000 lei ($1,148), the maximum allowed, on Tuesday for flouting dress regulations and for being late at the trial of five Romanians accused of art theft.

Dancu had a black robe over jeans and the bright blue sneakers — triple-stripe models which he said cost 200 euros ($264).

A black robe and three stripes? Dancu must have hoped dressing up as hipster Justice Rehnquist would help his case. Here’s a picture of Dancu’s pumped up kicks.[1]

Dancu explained:

“I am scented, shaved and fresh,” he said, explaining he had been delayed in another court. “I am going to contest this fine.”

That’s an amateur excuse. “Delayed in another court” explains tardiness, but doesn’t offer any explanation for not being in courtroom attire. The judge might have been mad about the late appearance, but it’s the fashion choices that really earned his ire. Judges enjoy wielding arbitrary power over sartorial decisions. Longtime readers remember Judge William Sosnay and his disdain for ascots. Or Judge Holly Hollenbeck hating on cancer patients.

I guess Dancu doesn’t have the stature in Romania that superstar litigator David Boies commands in the United States. Boies wears sneakers to court all the time. Lat even got a picture of them:

Perhaps not as flashy as Dancu’s, but it proves that with enough rep you can get away with anything. Dancu moved to have the judge removed from the case, so we’ll see how much rep he carries in Bucharest.

Meanwhile, lost in the brouhaha over Dancu’s shoes is how crazy this case is:

The five defendants are being tried for the theft of seven paintings by Picasso, Matisse and Monet among others which were stolen in October from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal gallery.

High-end art heist? Is that a real thing? I thought that was just something that happens in the movies, and not just because it’s ludicrous, but because I can’t imagine how someone fences a Picasso without getting caught.

All this adds to Dancu’s odd decision to show up for the trial in sneakers.

Something tells me Thomas Crowne’s lawyers wore dress shoes.


[1] Query: Where does that Foster the People song rank in all-time happy, peppy songs about brutal school shootings? I’d say just below “I Don’t Like Mondays” by the Boomtown Rats.

Lawyer fined for wearing sneakers, art heist trial delayed for ruling on changing judge [AP via Winnipeg Free Press]
Boies Will Be Boies [New York Magazine]

Earlier: Judge of the Day: William Sosnay
Judge Hollenbeck Apologizes To Cancer Victim, Revokes ‘No Hat’ Rule

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