Serving the bench and bar -- in style

By Rochelle Olson, Star Tribune

Last update: August 31, 2010 - 11:27 PM

On TV and in movies, lawyers look glamorous in designer duds with perfect hair and makeup. But the judges and lawyers in Hennepin County District Court don't exactly bring to mind sartorial splendor.

There are exceptions, though. An exuberantly colored bow tie always peeks out from Judge Gary Larson's black robe. Judge Karen Janisch has a colorful, kicky, youthful style. Judge Tamara Garcia is rarely seen in anything but a sleek pantsuit.

When felons appear on the congested arraignment calendar, they encounter Judith Cole, a willowy assistant county attorney who possesses an enviable wardrobe of updated classic skirts and heels. She always appears to have both sang-froid and savoir-faire intact.

Assistant County Attorney Mike Richardson's oxfords and seasonally adjusted suits consistently approach Ralph Lauren-level style.

Renowned criminal defense lawyers and pals Joe Friedberg and Earl Gray have unique fashion flair.

Friedberg, who claims they don't make suits in the "short and round" size he needs, has his suits tailor-made in subdued colors, then snaps on flashy cuff links.

The flamboyant Gray stands out with shirts in petal pink, baby blue and soft lilac. He will don a paisley tie in a deeper hue.

Criminal cases serve up surreal style action.

Witnesses in murder trials occasionally testify in T-shirts bearing phrases not printable here. Women's wear is often tight and skimpy. When a judge says "be seated," eyes must be averted to avoid the view from much-too-low-rise jeans.

Jailed defendants must rely on family and friends to deliver clothes for trial. One lawyer told his client's wife to provide conservative clothing. His surprise was visible when the murder defendant came to court in a white suit. That outfit wasn't seen again.

But nothing rivals the unfortunate brown pants and beige shirts worn by sheriff's deputies. Even the buffest public servants can't pull off that look.

Rochelle Olson 612-673-1747

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