The vision of hairy legs and knobby knees parading around his courtroom was too much for Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. Fearing an ugly legal precedent, he denied an Annapolis lawyer's request to wear Bermuda shorts to court.
"You'd open up a whole Pandora's box," the judge said of Gill Cochran's petition -- a kind of Motion for Appropriate Relief.
Mr. Cochran, who travels on a motor scooter from his office in downtown Annapolis to District Court on the outskirts of the city, insists that he was serious about the idea. It was a brainstorm he got after several trips to Bermuda, where businessmen dressed in jackets, ties and shorts and ride motor scooters to work, he said.
He said he was inspired to make the request this summer because of the consistent 90-degree temperatures.
He knows that the district and circuit courthouses are air-conditioned, but he said that doesn't make it any easier to deal with a coat and tie in the heat.
"We should all loosen up a little," he said.
Mr. Cochran wrote July 15 to Judge Thieme, who oversees courthouses in Anne Arundel, Howard and Carroll counties as chief judge of the 4th Circuit, and to Judge Clayton Greene, administrative judge of the Anne Arundel County District Court.
"I am quite sincere with this request. I hope neither one of you are laughing when you read my inquiry but if you are, just figure it is Gill," he wrote.
Mr. Cochran is emphatic on this point, however. The shorts would be worn only with knee socks, which would make it difficult to see a lawyer's unsightly legs and give the lawyer that dressy panache often found in the most formal of settings in Bermuda.
Other lawyers aren't so sure they want to see more of their colleagues.
"My God, can you think of anything worse?" asked T. Joseph Touhey, a Glen Burnie lawyer.
Mr. Touhey, a self-proclaimed spokesman for the Northern Anne Arundel Defense Bar, who was consulted by Judge Thieme on the matter, recommended that Mr. Cochran keep his pants on.
Mr. Touhey said in a July 21 letter to the judge that he feared that granting such a request could lead to other long-held traditions and barriers coming down.
"Once the flood gates are open and traditional garb is abandoned," he wrote, "it is but a matter of time before litigators will be facing each other in court au natural."