Our lead trial counsel has a "lucky tie" that he wears every day (or at least he did during jury selection) even though it's getting a little threadbare. This is a fairly common habit among trial attorneys, and I haven't heard of anyone ever objecting to it.
A motion filed in Florida last month, though, contended that opposing counsel was trying to gain an unfair advantage by wearing homely old shoes:
1. This is an action alleging personal injuries . . . .
2. Trial is set to begin on June 15, 2009.
3. It is well known in the legal community that Michael Robb, Esquire, wears shoes with holes in the soles when he is in trial.
4. Upon reasonable belief, Plaintiff believes that Mr. Robb wears these shoes as a ruse to impress the jury and make them believe that Mr. Robb is humble and simple without sophistication. . . .
* * *
6. Part of this strategy is to present Mr. Robb and his client as modest individuals who are so frugal that Mr. Robb has to wear shoes with holes in the soles. Mr. Robb is known to stand at sidebar with one foot crossed casually beside the other so that the holes in his shoes are readily apparent to the jury . . . .
7. Then, during argument and throughout the case Mr. Robb throws out statements like "I'm just a simple lawyer" with the obvious suggestion that Plaintiff's counsel and the Plaintiff are not as sincere and down to earth as Mr. Robb.
8. Mr. Robb should be required to wear shoes without holes in the soles at trial to avoid the unfair prejudice suggested by this conduct.
According to the Palm Beach Post, Mr. Robb's footwear — which he admits he has worn for 12 years now — is indeed well known to the legal community there. Earlier this year, another plaintiff's counsel offered to buy him a new custom-made pair of shoes if he would stop wearing the ancient loafers. (Obviously, he declined.) Apparently, however, this is the first opponent to challenge the loafers by motion.
Circuit Judge Donald Hafele denied the motion, after which plaintiff's counsel Bill Bone reportedly also tried the free-shoe offer. Robb declined again. He told the Post the shoes had nothing to do with his success.
"I've been practicing law for 21 years," he said, "and Mr. Bone thinks he's finally cracked the key to my success?" Robb scoffed at the idea. "Gotta be the shoes," he said. "Like Michael Jordan." Robb claimed that he had been planning to finally retire his "trial shoes," as he called them, but said this had changed his mind. "[T]hey're back in play," he said. "You ride that horse until it completely collapses."