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Sending a Message with What You Wear to Court

May 11, 2015 General

Defendant’s Choice of Clothing Angers Judge

The defendant in a murder case in Philadelphia appeared at a preliminary hearing last September wearing a t-shirt with the words “Crime Pays” in large, legible print on the front of the shirt.

Twenty-two-year-old Jeremiah Jakson, arrested and charged with the strangling death of a female art student, told Municipal Court judge Teresa Carr Deni that he had been given the shirt by someone at the county jail. Calling it “a very interesting choice of shirt,” she asked if he had considered turning it inside out, so that it’s message would not be seen and misconstrued by the court and others. Jakson contended that that possibility had not occurred to him. Judge Deni castigated Jakson and his attorney, instructing the lawyer to go to the jail to determine whether there was any truth to the assertion that he was given the shirt while in custody. She told Jakson that his attire was “unacceptable” and remanded him to custody.

Jakson is accused of killing a woman during an attempted robbery, stealing her laptop, camcorder and ATM card. The victim had a room at the same boarding house where Jakson lived.

Jakson is not the only defendant to have made a bad choice regarding clothing worn to court. In New Jersey in 2011, a young woman was arrested and charged for animal cruelty after leaving her dog tied to a railing for a week while she was out of town. When she returned, she put the dog in a plastic bag and threw it down the trash chute at her apartment, where it was found by trash collectors and nursed back to health by a local veterinarian’s office. At one of her court appearances, the woman wore a t-shirt that said “Keepin’ it real like a Happy Meal.” Animal rights supporters were incensed.

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