Friday, March 26, 2010

To wig or not to wig?

It's been too long since I sought your opinion on matters of grave importance, so I have a question for you.

I have a barrister's wig, it belonged to my great- great-grandfather, George Digby Pepys. Right now, it sits in its original tin in my study at home.

<--- Here it is.

Lately, people (defense lawyers and fellow ADAs alike) have been ribbing me about wearing it in trial. I assumed they were all joking until one young lawyer put a case on our jury docket and sincerely urged me to do it.

Now I'm suspicious.

To me it's a symbol of a venerable profession and he (or she) who wears a barrister's wig is accorded a certain degree of respect. But if he's urging me to wear it... does he think I'd look ridiculous? Pretentious? When jurors hear the accent and see the wig will they just laugh and nudge each others? Is that what the wig has become?!?

So I'm asking you. Assume the judge allows it and the defense lawyer and his client do not object. What would you think of a prosecutor who wears a wig in trial?


  1. I would assume that you were part of a very special episode of Matlock, wherein his third cousin once removed on his momma's side comes over the pond to help save an innocent client headed for a long sentence "up the river". Except that you would be arguing on the wrong side for that to work out.

    Or else, I'd wonder if this QC from London knows anything about US laws.

    Don't do it.

  2. Ha! A challenge! How about if I wore the wig AND cowboy boots...?!

  3. All I can say is that if you decide to do this please let me know ahead of time so I can cover it for the Statesman.

  4. I'm torn. I think it might be distracting. My focus as a juror might be on you rather than the case. (Of course that could be a good thing, haha.) OTOH, it would be neat. Especially with cowboy boots. :)

  5. Not a merkin is it?

  6. No, Stephen, it's NOT a merkin. ;)

    SK: It may happen. But tell me this, what view would the Statesman take of such a thing?!

  7. Personally, I would be amused. But as a lawyer, I would be concerned with it influencing the jury. If I were on the jury, i'd be distracted by wondering a. If you were crazy, b. how old the wig was, c. where it came from and d. if it made your head itch. So I'd be one distracted juror.

  8. Jordan, good points. I guess if it ever happened I'd try to answer those questions during voir dire: "Why yes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm wearing this 100-year-old wig because I am, in fact, crazy."

  9. Do it! And then post a pic of you in action :)

  10. After 19 years in law enforcement in Texas and countless hours spent in court testifying on everything from misdemeanors to capital felonies, if I saw a limey prosecutor in a wig in a Texas courtroom, it would definitely be a first. I also think it would be a hoot. You should give it a go.

  11. the jury wouldn't be able to stop laughing at you. whether or not that's good for your case is up to you to decide, DAC.

  12. Purely for the entertainment value, I say Do it! Do it!! And have someone take lots of photos.

    As an aside, that's an ugly-ass wig. Take it to the beauty salon or something before you wear it in public.

    Perhaps you should pick a case you can live with losing, like one of those Very Important less than a gram possession beefs. :)

  13. Hm, it seems to resemble a coonskin cap. It you practiced in Tennessee it could go completely unnoticed.

  14. Is this a serious question?

    I can't imagine any court allowing you to do that. While it would be totally appropriate in the U.K., it's not so in the U.S.

    If I were the defense attorney, I'd be asking the court whether you thought the proceedings were a joke.

    It's not that I don't have a sense of humor. I nearly wore a barrister's wig to my law school graduation. One of my friends DID do it. My wife, however, threatened to kill me -- and she was actually not very happy that I was seriously considering it.

    But not in a courtroom. I'm sorry. Not even remotely professional.

    On another note, I'm going to go ahead (for now, anyway) and add you to my blogroll. If nothing else, you'll make me look better. (I'm kidding -- except for the part about adding you.)

  15. can i have the wig? hehehe


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