Thursday, September 10, 2015
Amendments adopted by the Florida Supreme Court provide that
During any judicial proceeding, robes worn by a judge must be solid black with no embellishment.
The Court, on its own motion, adopts new Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.340 (Judicial Attire) to govern judges’ attire during judicial proceedings. The demeanor of judges in a public courtroom, including the attire they wear there, is a crucial indicator of the seriousness of the judicial office and of the proceedings. In this regard, this Court has a major responsibility to provide leadership and direction to advance the judicial branch’s ongoing effort to enhance public trust and confidence in the third branch of government. As part of this responsibility, we adopt new rule 2.340 to provide guidance to Florida’s judges and emphasize that the attire worn by judges during judicial proceedings must promote public trust and confidence in the proceedings and the judicial system as a whole...
Presiding judges wearing different colored robes or robes with varying embellishments could result in uncertainty for those coming before our courts and serve to counter the efforts the branch has employed to gain the public’s trust. For example, one could question whether there is a “status” attributed to the varying colors or embellishments worn by different judges, e.g., whether the color or embellishment denotes a rank of judge based on tenure, ability, or some other factor—is this judge more or less qualified or maybe the chief judge? Depending on the color or pattern of the robe or the type of embellishment worn, some may wonder whether the presiding judge is a “real judge” or whether the judge will take the proceedings seriously. Robe color also could be seen as a reflection of a judge’s mood or attitude that day. Should a defendant facing the death penalty feel trepidation when the presiding judge appears in a red robe or feel more at ease when the robe is green? The possibility that the unique attire of the judge assigned to one’s case could raise these concerns and thereby diminish public trust and confidence in the proceedings is not acceptable.
The public should not have to guess as to the meaning of different colored, patterned, or embellished robes. Promoting uniformity in judicial attire, by requiring all judges to wear unembellished, solid black robes, will no doubt avoid these concerns and promote public trust and confidence. The people of Florida have a right to expect equal justice every day, in every court in this state, and should not have to question whether equal justice is being dispensed based on the color of a judge’s robe.