Hospitals and Handwashing

So last evening while hanging out in the ICU waiting area at one of the local hospitals with my sweetie and his family, I excused myself to go to the ladies’ room.  The ladies’ room in that area has two stalls.  It also has two soap dispensers, two sinks and one paper towel dispenser.  When I walked in the restroom was occupied by one other person.  She was washing her hands, and left about the time I got the door locked on the first stall.  Another individual came in as I was finishing my business and went into the other stall. 
Upon concluding my business, I stopped at the sink to wash my hands.  I was doing just that when the other individual came out of her stall, making a beeline for the door without giving so much as a moment’s hesitation to consider washing her hands.  As the door closed behind her, I said one word — “Seriously?” —  to her retreating back. 
Yes, I’m probably fortunate she didn’t come back to confront me (although I think I could have taken her) but I meant what I said.  Seriously?!  She was in a hospital where people are often sick — and contagious.  She utilized a public restroom that had been utilized by who knows how many people prior to her occupying it, and who knows what those individuals had been exposed to, and she didn’t even stop to wash her hands?  Seriously?  Gross.  Even if that isn’t something one does normally — I’m not discussing that right now other than to say “gross!” — I would think one would take the time in a hospital of all places.  I swear, people scare me.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

A few weeks ago I attended court in Missouri.  It was a day on which I was scheduled to appear in two divisions of the Court at the same time. I appeared in my “usual” division on the first floor of the courthouse, and in another division on the third floor.  By the end of the morning, I felt like a little kid playing on the elevator, I was up and down so many times.  (Sorry, but I don’t do stairs in heels and dress pants with any width to the legs after getting such a shoe caught in my pantleg a year and a half ago and pitching forth from the sixth step up to the ground below where I landed solidly on my posterior.  Serious OUCH!) 
It was a criminal docket day in the courtroom on the third floor, which meant my case, the lone civil case on the docket that day, was going to be the last thing to be heard.  (Criminal takes precedence over civil, if you didn’t know.)  As a result, I ended up sitting through numerous arraignments and plea agreements, none of which were particulary interesting, before the judge arrived at the last case to be heard before mine.  It was a preliminary hearing, so there was going to be witness testimony.  While we waited patiently (or impatiently, as the case may be) for the witnesses to make their way up to the courtroom from their holding area (aka, the victim/witness office), I hoped the judge would take up my case and I could skedattle on out of there.  (I only needed one little bitty order signed.)  As luck would have it, that did NOT happen and I ended up continuing to wait my turn through the preliminary hearing.
Let me just say, for those who don’t know, I used to be a deputy prosecuting attorney, and once upon a time, my primary area of prosecution was in domestic violence, so when I tell this story, please understand I am in no way minimizing or making fun of what the alleged victims in this case went through, nor am I judging the validity of their statements to the police or their testimony in court.  I’m just telling you what I heard and sharing my commentary.
Without going into the whole long story, the gist of the situation is this: Defendant hit on Victim #1 in the parking lot of the Kum & Go, and when she rejected him, he “pulled out his penis and hit [her] on the leg with it”.  Okay, SOOOO didn’t see that statement coming from the context of her earlier testimony.  Then on a separate day, Defendant hit on Victim #2 as she walked down the street.  She went in the Kum & Go to get a soda — Memo to Self: Stay the heck away from the Kum & Go, as it is apparently the root of all criminal and deviant behavior in Springfield — hoping to lose the Defendant.  She was unsuccessful and he continued following her.  She testified that he eventually got out of his vehicle and approached her from behind and “tried to grab [her] boob off”.  She also testified that he stuck his hand up her shorts and touched her ladyparts.  When asked by the prosecutor if there was penetration when this happened, she responded, “Umm…. Not that I know of???”  (Okay, I’m not going to touch this statement other than to say you’d think one would know!!)
The kicker came on cross-examination when the defendant’s attorney asked if she was sure his client was the guy who did these things.  She affirmed that she was sure, and he asked how she knew.  She then stated, “I mean, I’m used to it.  Guys look at me, the talk to me, they show me their penises, but they usually go away when I tell them to.”  I’m sorry, what???  Where the heck does this young woman go that what naturally follows a glance or a pickup line is the brandishing one’s parts to her?  Did she actually just say that?!  The defendant’s attorney was recording her testimony with a micro-cassette recorder, so I’m pretty sure that phrase is going to be rehashed at some point down the road.  I don’t think I have to tell you that the defendant was bound over for trial. 
I think the guy, who had an entire courtroom pew filled with his cheering section, is a complete schmuck, and hope he enjoys those stripes he was wearing because I predict — and hope — he is going to be wearing a siminar outfit for a long time to come.  Meanwhile, I’d really like to know where Victim #2 goes that guys look at her, talk to her, and show her their parts.  I know already to stay away from the Kum & Go, but I’d like a list of the other location(s) so I can be sure not to frequent them…

A Word (or Several) on Proper Courtroom Attire

I have been fortunate to practice law in multiple courtrooms in two different states.  While the way judges conduct their respective dockets is different from state to state, county to county, and even courtroom to courtroom, one thing seems to remain constant: The parties, witnesses, and observers who come to court don’t have the slightest clue about appropriate attire.  

Once upon a time, when one wanted to convey to someone that he/she should dress nicely, the words, “wear your Sunday best” were frequently used.  In the good old days that implied a suit, or at least clean jeans and a button-down shirt for the guys, and a dress or a skirt and blouse for the ladies.  Now, however, with so many churches and religious institutions going to a more “casual” service to cater to those who want to roll out of bed and onto a pew, using the phrase “Sunday best” no longer ensures that the advisee will understand how he/she is to dress.  After all, these days one’s “Sunday-go-to-meeting” clothes are the same as those worn to Walmart, which often translates to pajama bottoms and a t-shirt/sweatshirt/tanktop.  What makes makes such an outfit one’s “Sunday Best” is the fact that said pajama bottoms and top actually match one another, whereas any time other than Sunday, matching is not guaranteed.  

I once had a client show up to get divorced wearing khaki cargo shorts.  Needless to say, the judge was less than impressed.  My client explained that he had his U-Haul loaded and was moving somewhere in the northwest the instant the decree was signed, and all his other clothes were packed.  The judge glowered at my client over his glasses and strongly suggested he should have kept some long pants out to wear to court, but thankfully allowed him to go through the requisite motions to get divorced rather than making him unpack his U-Haul in the courthouse parking lot to find something more appropriate to wear.  

Because people simply don’t have good sense these days, more and more courts have started posting a dress code at the door so people know what is and is not acceptable.  Dress codes aren’t new.  Several years ago I attended court at a facility that posted a sign on the door stating defendants who appeared in shorts and/or tank tops would be sent home to change clothes.  These days, however, the signs have gotten much more specific.  I give you the following:


It is a sad state of attire when it becomes necessary to tell people they shouldn’t expose their respective midsections, or that it isn’t appropriate to wear tube tops, halter tops, bathing suits, pajamas, lingerie, helmets, or clothing depicting gang-related messages or obscenities to court.  Seriously?  It’s sort of like the warning labels on products.  You just know that someone tried to dry his/her hair in the shower; otherwise, why would that warning be necessary?  I can just see some nitwit wearing his Speedo to court and thinking if it’s okay to wear to a public beach or pool — it isn’t, by the way — that it is okay to wear it to court.  WHO DOES THAT??? (Yes, I’m sure it’s more likely that some female showed up wearing her bikini top, but I’m having fun with this.)

And then I see something like the following, and understand why such an admonition is necessary.

This young woman was entering the Greene County Courthouse in Greene County, Missouri wearing a black strapless maxi dress.  I’m not sure when strapless maxi dresses became appropriate courtroom attire.  In fact, I’m pretty sure they aren’t appropriate.  I don’t know if she was a party to an action, a witness, or a spectator, but I’m thinking this ought to fit somewhere on the “Thou Shalt Not Wear” list.

Speaking of strapless maxi dresses, next we have:

“Now, wait, Jenn. That dress appears to have straps,” you may be saying.  I assure you, this was a strapless maxi dress.  Those black straps you see — the left of which is serving double-duty as a keyring holder — are her bra straps.  I am pretty sure this violates the “dress code” in more ways than one.  That includes the matching pink flip-flops.  (Note: this photo was also taken outside the Greene County Courthouse in Greene County, Missouri.  I have not personally observed a dress code posted at that courthouse; the two dress codes I posted are from other courthouses in other counties.)  

And today we had this gem:

True story: I was thrilled to death to see this young woman walking across the parking lot at the courthouse in Greene County, Missouri — are you sensing a trend here? — this afternoon.  In fact, I hustled across the parking lot myself just to be sure I didn’t miss the opportunity to snap a photo of this incredibly questionable fashion decision.  

As I’m sure you can tell, the dress — yes, it’s a dress — is one-shouldered.  It is EXCEPTIONALLY short, and her pasty-white legs are showing all the way to her … ahem… biscuit.  (Yes, I am guilty of having watched an episode or several of Honey Boo Boo.)  As a friend of mine pointed out, you know having a small child with her, she has to bend down and stretch up, “neither of which would be good”.  I pointed out at the the small child might actually be a saving grace since his foot may be the only thing holding the hem of that Flintstonesesque number down.  Another friend argued that the pink flower in her hair makes it professional.  (I agreed, assuming we are talking about a professional hooker.)  I have no idea what sort of matter this young woman was appearing on.  All I know is she hopped on the elevator and was gone before I had an opportunity to test my covert iPhone photography skills by snapping a photo of the front of the dress.  This fact still saddens me.  Ladies, even if the sign doesn’t specifically say it, a one-shouldered dress has no place in a courtroom, and the only place a crotch-skimming one belongs is on a street corner.  

Were do these people come from?  Didn’t their mothers teach them anything about dressing properly for a given situation?  Don’t they have mirrors at their houses?  And to the last young lady: Do you really thinking you looked so smoking hot in this dress that we would look past the sheer inappropriateness of it?  Because I can assure you, everyone who saw you was indeed speechless, but not in a good way.

Dressing for the Body You Have

Anyone who has ever watched an episode of What Not to Wear has heard the phrase, “Dress for the body you have, not the body you want”.  To that thought, I’d like to add the following: The fact that something comes in what is theoretically your size does not mean that you should wear it.  

It’s a harsh fashion reality that all styles do not look good on all bodies.  For example, those colored skinny jeans in neon colors you saw on the skinny-mini at the mall last week?  

Yeah, not a good look on this body.  In fact, I’m going to go so far as to say they are emphasizing the size of her posterior.  NOT in a good way.  And her friend who told her those looked great?  Yeah, SO not a true friend.

Another thing about dressing for the body you have: You might want to make sure that body is properly covered.  This plea goes for the size zeros out there, and the not-so-small folks alike.  For the love of all that is good and holy, no one needs or wants to see your undergarments, or the parts of your body that your undergarments are failing to cover.  I cite the following from a local minor league baseball game as an example:

(Note: I did not snap this photo; a friend who attended the game with me did, and she was kind enough to forward it to me.)  How does one NOT know that one’s posterior is showing?  I know it was a hot day, but did she not feel the breeze???  How is this look even comfortable???  And again I feel compelled to ask, is anyone else old enough to recall the good old days when one’s bra was worn to “lift and separate”, but was not intended to be displayed?  I don’t need to see the exhibition of anyone’s bra straps, much less the entire back of the bra.  And really?  There is no reason I should know that she is wearing a thong, what color her thong is, or that said thong doesn’t match her bra.  That whale tale ought to be fully covered by her pants — or even a longer top — and that is a fact regardless of her size. 

I understand that people come in all shapes and sizes, and regardless of the reason, some people are larger than others.  Regardless of one’s size, however, one should dress in a manner that is appropriate for her body, and — PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT — that doesn’t subject the rest of us to  unsightly images that we can’t unsee now matter how badly we wish we could.  

A "Before Facebook" Rant

It seems every time I get on Facebook, I see something that annoys the daylights out of me.  There are a couple of things that the top of my Facebook pet peeve list (in addition to the obvious things like the inability to spell, failure to utilize proper punctuation, refusal to capitalize, using the wrong homonym, etc.), one of which I’m not sharing today, and the other of which… well, here goes.
Before I go there, though, let me preface this post with the following: I understand this post may not go over well with some people.  I also realize there may be more folks out there who share my perspective than I would have imagined.  My intention is not to offend anyone, but again, this is my blog, and if I can’t post MY opinion here, well, where can I post it?
How in the world did people wish their children a happy birthday prior to Facebook or other social media.  I mean, I know they sell those things called “cards” in stores, and I know it’s possible to have a message spelled out on top of a cake, a cookie, or via skywriter, but really?  I’m not sure those options do an adequate job of torturing other folks with tales of how many hours of labor they endured, how many weeks premature the child was, how wonderful/quirky/smart/funny/big-hearted/sweet/loving/special their child is, etc. 
I’m sure there are some who will say I just don’t get it because I don’t have kids.  Fine.  Maybe that’s it.  Or maybe it’s that I don’t understand what appears to me to be a game of trying to one-up the birthday wish posted by one’s Facebook “frenemy” last week.  It’s like a competition to see who can post the most ooshy-gooshy over-the-top birthday wish.  And when it’s to a young child who (hopefully) doesn’t have a Facebook page, or a really young child who can’t even read, for crying out loud, it drives me bonkers because the birthday wish is obviously not being posted for the edification of the birthday boy or girl; it is being posted for the edification of the parent.

I understand most people seem to think their kid is the cutest/smartest/greatest/funniest.  If you don’t believe it, watch an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras; those mothers all think they have beautiful children.  (Side rant: Let me let you in on a little secret: All children are NOT pretty.  Some kids are just plain ugly.  It’s an unfortunate trick of genetics.  It happens.  And dressing that unfortunate-looking child up in a sparkly thousand dollar dress does not make that child more attractive.  There.  I said it.  Live with it.  You know I’m right.)  So is the fact someone managed to come up with some creative (or utterly NON-creative) way of telling us that she was in the hospital giving birth “x” number of years ago today supposed to win praise and accolades, or result in the delivery of flowers and balloons?  All I have to say is better her than me.
I would also like to point out that no one ever posts an honest happy birthday wish to the kid who has been nothing but trouble from the word “go”, who has cost them thousands in drug rehab and legal fees due to the little thug’s misdeeds that landed him/her in juvenile court, who wrecked your new when he/she snuck out and went joy-riding, or who is an all-around, surly, rude, ill-behaved little pain-in-the-ass whose eighteenth birthday cannot arrive soon enough.  No, no.  It’s always sunshine and lollipops when it’s time to wish little junior or juniorette a happy birthday on Facebook.
Really?  Just go buy your kid a card.  Or make one yourself.  Printers have come a long way since we were kids.  Go decorate a cake.  Hang a banner over the kitchen table, or let the kid eat his/her dinner on the special “birthday plate”.  But spare the rest of us.  Telling all of us that you wish your kid a happy birthday is not nearly as effective or important as telling your kid that you wish him/her a happy birthday. 

Wearing Boots Does NOT Make it Western

We recently attended a Miranda Lambert concert at one of the area’s local fairgrounds.  It was a great show, we had a blast, she can really sing, blah, blah, blah, etc.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Let’s get to the point.
I am always amazed by the quality of the people-watching when I go to a concert by an artist in the country music genre.  First of all, judging by the quantity of brand new cowboy boots, cowboy hats, plaid shirts, and ruffled/flouncy-hemmed dresses, it is clearly the time to own a Westernwear store.  Some people go all out to look as if they “belong”, and of course, they have to have a different outfit for each such concert, because that other outfit?  Well, it’s been seen before.  (Speaking of looking like one “belongs”, one of these days, I’ll have to share some pics I snaped at the Snoop Dog concert a couple of years ago.  Seriously!)
It’s also interesting to see the large numbers of people who seem to subscribe to the philosophy that once one puts boots on with an outfit, that outfit is instantly “Western” in nature.  Boots with designer blue jeans and a blinged out tank top?  Western.  Boots with a miniskirt and too-short, too-tight, tube top?  Western.  Boots with a maxi dress?  Western.  Boots with anything ruffled?  Western.  Boots with anything with metalic thread?  Yep, Western.  Boots with lace shorts? Still Western.  Boots with sequined shorts?  Western again.  Boots with plaid (even if it’s burberry plaid)? You guessed it: Western.  Boots with a skirt suit?  Okay, fine.  Maybe I’m making the last one up, but only the last one. 
News flash, folks: All boots are not created equal.  While I am supremely envious of your Tori Burch or Frye boots, they are not western, and putting them on with denim cut-offs doesn’t make you look “Western” or “Country”.  It makes you look silly.  And the combination of your super cute chevron dress and your awesome, high-dollar, (non-Western), designer boots (that also look great with your skinny jeans or leggings), Do not make you look Western.  Frankly, you just look overdressed at a bring-your-own-chair-or-blanket concert near the animal exhibition building.  Just sayin’…
And just so everyone’s clear: boots with a pair of “mom” jeans and a really stupid, we-think-we-are-being-clever t-shirt idea?  Yeah, still not Western…
Wear what you want to wear and look how you want to look.  I am going to, and I understand that someone somewhere may be snapping pictures and snarking about me.  All I’m saying is, where the objective is clearly to sport a Western/Country look, it isn’t as simple as throwing on a pair of boots.  And since you aren’t performing at said concert, what’s wrong with just wearing your flip-flops?

How do you expect to be taken seriously…?

As I indicated in my previous post, this idea for this blog originated after I shared a photo from court with a friend.  Here is the aforementioned photo:

Look, do what you want with your hair color.  Mine has been known to sport highlights in non-naturally-occurring shades of red from time to time.  (They blended, and were not distracting, however.)  Currently, I have the ombre’ thing going on.  I love it.  My significant other, on the other hand, recently told me he thinks it looks like a skunk.  (Haven’t quite figured that out since I don’t have a different colored streak down the middle, but that isn’t the point.)  Here’s a thought, though:  If you are a party to a case pending before the Court, you most likely would prefer the Judge take your positionon said case seriously.  I’ll concede I have never been a judge, but I would expect that it’s a little difficult to take a party seriously when she appears looking as if she lacks respect for the process or the Court.
(By the way, what you can’t see in this photo, is that this girl also that big-gaping-holes-in-the-earlobes thing going on.  I find that trend particularly disturbing, not to mention gross.)
It’s just my opinion, but I think one should put one’s best foot forward when one appears before the Court.  It is a respect thing.  I understand that a lot of people don’t have much respect for court for for the court process, but I don’t think the courtroom is the place to show one’s rebellious side.  At least LOOK as if you have some respect, even if the voices in your head are waxing disrespectful.  Pink hair and bra straps on display, even if color-coordinated, do not spell respect. 

Welcome to Judged by Jenn

Welcome to Judged by Jenn. 

This blog idea came into being after I sent a text to a friend of a young lady who appeared for Court recently in a small Missouri town.  The young lady in question was wearing jeans and a plaid tank top with her bra straps showing.  I’ll grant you this isn’t all that remarkable in this day and age.  (Is anyone else out there old enough to remember the good old days when we wore our undergarments under our clothing?  Or when we dressed to make a good impression?)  The remarkable issue was that her bra straps were neon pink.  As were the sunglasses perched atop her head.  And her hair?  It was also bright pink.  (She also had big gaping holes in her ears, but folks will have to take my word on that, because they weren’t visible in the photo.)  I’ll share the photo and provide my commentary in a future blog; that isn’t the point of this post.

Anyway, my friend, who is a writer, made the comment that I really should start a blog.  That got the wheels in my head turning.  The discussion that followed was that I needed a catchy, yet snarky, name for it.  After thinking for a little bit, the name “Judged by Jenn” came to me.  I ran it by my friend, and she liked it.  I shared the idea with a couple more friends.  They liked it, as well, so a blog was born.

Because people both entertain and annoy me in a variety of ways and locations, I have opted not to restrict my commentary to the various courtrooms I frequent.  After all, that hardly seems fair, what with all the blog fodder on the loose in our everyday society just itching to be written about.

One friend worried that this concept seems a little (or perhaps a lot) mean-spirited.  It really isn’t intended that way.  Some of my posts will be rants.  Some will be praise.  Some will be snarky.  Occasionally I will be kind.  Some of my opinions may not be popular.  Here’s the thing: they are MY opinions, and this is MY blog, so I’m going to say what I think.  If you’ve found your way here, hopefully you will get my sense of snark and sarcasm. 

My philosophy is simple: I tend to think other people exist either to entertain me, or to annoy me.  Which category do you fall into?  Well, I suppose that’s up to you.