That’s the question that Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett had for his court orderlies (police officers) at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court recently.

The magistrate said he likes to learn every day and asked the reason why males are asked to remove earrings before entering the court.

He asked after a court orderly had ordered a man who attempted to enter the courtroom to remove his earrings before doing so.

Prosecutor Police Constable Corlene Samuel told the court that it was a protocol that she met “in the system”.

The magistrate then asked Crown Counsel Kareem Nelson, who was sitting in the gallery, if there was a reason.

Nelson said “not in my personal view”, adding that others might have another viewpoint.

Burnett said he did not want to “break all the traditions in the court”.

He said he saw it being done and he asked himself what is the reason for asking a male to take out his earrings. 

“I just want to know the reason. There may be a very good reason but as the magistrate, I want to know,” Burnett said.

Asked if he knows the reasons, Corporal David Wright said it is a code of dress that he met when the joined the police force.

He said it continues, adding that it stands also for entrance to the Central Police Station, although certain senior officers waive it from time to time.

Nelson told the court that there is a requirement that people dress in a manner befitting the dignity of the court.

“And, of course, that could be very subjective,” Nelson said, adding that standards can change over time.

The crown counsel said that what may not have been befitting at one time could change.

He said he has his own personal views, “but there are some persons who are very conventional”.

The magistrate told the court orderlies that he is not saying to change it.

“Police, do what you have to do, but, I want to know the reasons for my own knowledge,” Burnett said, adding that he had seen it being done from time to time.

According to a “dress code” posted in courtroom, no short pants, tank tops, halter tops, spaghetti or strapless tops are allowed, along with shirts that do not extend to at least he middle of the thigh while the wearer is sitting.

There should also be no exposed underwear, midriffs, stomachs, or buttocks; no slacks, trousers or jeans that can only be supported by the wearer’s hands.

No bare feet, bedroom slippers, or swimmers’ “flip flops” also known locally as ‘gunslingers’ are allowed.

Clothing, hats and helmets displaying images or writings depicting illegal, violent or suggestive slogans or caricatures are not allowed in the courtroom.
The notice said that all persons in the courtroom, except those required to be there because of arrest or court order, “shall be attired in a manner appropriate to the dignity and decorum of the courtroom setting”.

The notice further said that anyone who misbehaves or enters the courtroom improperly dressed may be sent away until properly attired, or may be found in contempt of court and subjected to a fine, or incarcerated, or both. 

7 replies on “Why must males remove earrings before entering courtroom?”

  1. Utter junk, it’s the 21st Century, is someone going to die of Amcient Colonialism? I doubt, probably would be better of they did – once it’s jewellery not distracting from proceedings it should be ignored. Man paid $50 USD here in Barbados because his were baby barbells welded in place… Insane!

  2. Orlando Alexander says:

    So if the law and traditions of the country seek to hold on to that tradition of presentation of an individual as been stated it’s what has been met in the system from ancient of day, why can’t this principle and protocol be upheld the sane way in the LGBTQ legislation that will infringe our customs and traditions of the country????

  3. nancysauldemers says:

    Some rules make no sense in this day and age. I was barred from entering the court room when I was wearing a beautiful, tailored navy linen shirt, simply because it had no sleeves. It definitely didn’t fall into the category of “tank tops, halter tops, spaghetti or strapless tops.” But the constable, after first telling me I couldn’t enter because the court room was full, finally told me there were “no armpits allowed” when I noted that the court room couldn’t be full because others were being permitted to enter. I was finally permitted to enter when I put a grubby, wrinkled extra-large men’s t-shirt (with short sleeves) on over my tailored linen shirt. It didn’t make sense then and it still doesn’t make sense now.

  4. Rawlston Pompey says:

    SUSPICIOUS COURT ORDERLIES – INQUISITIVE MAGISTRATE

    Though he said he only wanted to know why ‘…males are not allowed to wear earrings at Court,’ it was obvious that the Senior Magistrate’s apparent curiosity, appeared not to have been fully satisfied after his extensive inquisition.

    The answer about ‘…proper or improper Dress Code,’ speaks mostly of the attire that maybe seen as ;

    (i) …Revealing too much of that which should be properly covered up;

    (ii) …That which shall never have any ‘…halo effect’ on adjudicating Magistrates.’;

    See no reason that their ‘…reasoning power’ would be affected as to result in making and delivering irrational or ill-informed magisterial decisions’ that shall be based on the evidence adduced, as opposed to a particular manner of dress, be they males or females.

    Even so, in all these jurisdictions, it has never been ‘…Police Courts.’

    Instead and irrefutably so, this societal institution has always been called ‘…Magistrates’ Court.’

    Given this truth, it is for ‘…Magistrates’ to determine that which might be worn that reflects the ‘…Dignity and Integrity of the Court,’ particularly as it is widely known as an institution where justice is administrated and accordingly dispensed.

    Seems illogical, if not nonsensical that the ‘…wearing of one or a pair of earrings by a male,’ could cause physical harm to ‘…individuals; …Court Orderlies; and Adjudicators.’

    Even as the ‘…Court Orderlies’ seem enslaved to an apparent ‘…institutionalized or organizational culture,’ the whole thing appears as laughable as it is outmoded.

    Except the thinking of ‘…Court Orderlies’ is guided by ‘…Vodooism,’ intended to cast spells upon themselves and the Magistrates, really can’t think of anything else.

    The fundamental question is, ‘…What has the wearing of an earring by a male to do with that before a Magistrate for adjudication?’

  5. Niron Jeffrey says:

    Yes it happened to me once. I was on holiday and went to see an old school friend who works there. I was promptly told to remove my ear ring and tuck my shirt in my trousers. I agree that you should appear suitably attired in a courtroom but things like this kind of baffles me. Just like the banning of wearing camouflaged military trousers on the island. So if an African gentleman who some do wear ear rings as part of their tribal culture, who they be asked to remove them???

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