Courtgoers guilty of bad manners

THE verdict is in: not only are some Bundaberg courtgoers guilty of crimes against fashion, their court attire and behaviour are sometimes crimes against our legal system.

Thongs, singlets, board shorts and mini skirts are not uncommon attire on visitors to the Bundaberg Courthouse, and CQUniversity associate professor of law Kristy Richardson said people would do well to show some respect, with magistrates holding the power to charge people with contempt.

“It wouldn't impress a magistrate, some of the things people wear,” she said.

“No thongs, singlets and no shirts with messages. It shows you're not taking things seriously. The court is an institution that needs to be respected.”

The law professor said people needed to be on their best behaviour in court.

“People should not speak out of turn; only speak when asked a question,” she said.

“It is not just the defendant who should not speak — it could be the crowd they brought along with them yelling at police as they read the (statement of facts) or telling the duty lawyer what to say.”

Charltons Lawyers solicitor Edwina Rowan said appropriate clothing was not the only things people in court needed to mind.

“Things like wearing sunglasses on top of the head or people's mobile telephones ringing are very disrespectful,” she said.

“People should not chew gum or speak loudly in the back of the court.”

Ms Rowan said a suit was not always necessary, but people should make an effort to dress neatly.

“I always advise clients to wear neat and tidy clothes and they should endeavour to have them ironed as well,” she said.

Legal Aid Queensland defence lawyer Christine Delaney said while the majority of people understood court was a serious matter, there were some who did not.

“You will always see a small percentage of people during the week who behave inappropriately,” she said.

“When people come to court in something that's not really appropriate, it is usually a reflection of their lifestyle and personal circumstances.”

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