Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wearing saggy pants in the courtoom: is a fashion statement worth three days in jail?

"Autauga County is a friendly community in the Appalachian foothills with gently rolling land, outcropping of mountains and valleys."  So says the Autauga County, Alabama website.  However, woe be to the scofflaw who wears saggy pants in front of Autauga County Circuit Court Judge John Bush.

As the Associated Press and the Montgomery Advertiser report, Judge Bush sentenced LaMarcus Ramsey to three days in the county jail for wearing saggy jeans to court.  Mr. Ramsey was in court to plead guilty to a charge of receiving stolen property.  According to the Advertiser, Judge Bush was "visibly irate" and told Mr. Ramsey,
You are in contempt of court because you showed your butt in court. You can spend three days in jail. When you get out you can buy pants that fit, or at least get a belt to hold up your pants so your underwear doesn’t show.
Judge Bush apparently told the Associated Press, that Mr. Ramsey's actions were "not any different than if someone stood up in court and started cussing everybody out."  Judge Bush went on that wearing saggy pants is ""disrespectful conduct and I think as judges we're expected to at least have some degree of control and respect for the courtroom the people have given us charge of."

Judge Bush is certainly correct that people expect judges to have some control over their courtroom.  However, people inclined to quibble might point out that having visible undergarments is certainly not the same as showing one's "butt" in court.  Moreover, as one who has been in a courtroom when someone stood up and started cursing, I feel safe in saying wearing saggy pants is definitely not the same as "cussing everybody out."  Moreover, Judge Bush's comment about needing a belt overlooks that belts are an essential part of the saggy pants look.  The wearer needs a belt because the pants will not stay up without one.

Mr. Ramsey's plight reminded me a little of Johnny Cash's ode to being locked up in the "Starkville City Jail."  My advice to our reader(s) is to remember to hike you pants up before entering the courtroom.


  1. Perhaps Mr. Ramsey got off easy. Following your link for "essential part of the saggy pants look" let me this story, about how a town in Georgia is fining folks for sporting this fashion:

    The helpful picture at that link claims to be from the Flint Police department, which apparently "cracked" down on baggy pants back in 2008.

    Clearly this is one of the great issues of our time.

  2. taking away someones liberty is the gravest of decisions under the rule of law. this judge needs to administer the laws of the people - not his own laws. plus - just how did he conclude that 3 days in jail was the appropriate/inappropriate length of the jail sanction? he just pulled that sentence out of his arse. judge needs to be immediately fired.

  3. Just saying, I bet the guy does not go around showing his but candy while he is in the can!

  4. Anons 1 and 2, thanks for posting.
    Anon1, I agree that jailing someone for three days because of how they wear their pants is over the top. For better or worse it appears that most people disagree. The US Today article I linked to in my follow up post on this saggy pants saga quotes at least one citizen of Autuaga as being quite happy about Judge Bush's actions. I suspect the publicity will help the Judge when election time comes around again.

    Anon2, thanks for the phrase "but candy." I had not heard (or read) that term before.


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