Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

May 18, 2009


DC Examiner -No jeans? No justice! That's the cry coming from attorney Stephen Mercer, after he showed up at the D.C. jail on the morning of Sunday, May 2, in a pair of jeans.

"They warned me (and every other attorney showing up that morning – nearly all of whom were wearing jeans) of the 'new' policy banning attorneys wearing jeans that would be effective as of the next Sunday," Mercer tells us.

So, like any denim-loving American, Mercer filed a FOIA request three days later. He requested "all documents, memoranda, letters, e-mails, that purport to establish the legal authority and justification for any regulation, rule or policy that bars attorneys from wearing blue jeans while conducting legal visits with clients at the D.C. jail."

A Corrections spokesman referred him to an official Program Statement, dated February 2008, that establishes procedures for attorney visits to inmates at the Central Detention Facility on D Street, SE.

Indeed, that statement does address counsel's attire, specifically prohibiting sheer clothing, form-fitting clothing, "multi-layer" garments, "shorts and hot pants," dresses or skirts more than three inches above the knee, military camouflage and "any other items that may compromise the safety and security of the facility."

But nowhere does it mention denim. Says Mercer, "it doesn’t appear to contain any prohibition on lawyers wearing blue jeans. So I have asked for clarification."


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