OGDEN — A reporter showed too much skin for the comfort of an Ogden bailiff working the security checkpoint at a courthouse entrance, so he asked her to cover up her arms.
On her first day as the newspaper’s justice reporter, Morgan Briesmaster wore a sleeveless blouse to the courthouse on June 3. The blouse went up to her neck.
A bailiff in Ogden’s Second District Courthouse feared that the Standard-Examiner newspaper reporter would commit a dress code violation because of her sleeveless top, which might result in a judge tossing Briesmaster from the courtroom.
“That morning, I checked at 8 o’clock and noticed that it was 88 degrees,” she said.
Briesmaster, not wanting any trouble, got a heavy, black parka to cover her bare arms and sat in court for two and one-half hours in June.
“Not only had I been hired three months prior by the Standard, it’s my brand-new beat,” she said, “and upon entering the courthouse the very first time, I was told I was doing something wrong.”
Briesmaster again sucked it up today at the Second District Court in Farmington. The temperature reached 87 degrees, but she wore long sleeves.
I was fearful upon entering that courthouse, because I was worried I would be discriminated against because of this. They probably didn't even recognize me.
“I was fearful upon entering that courthouse, because I was worried I would be discriminated against because of this,” Briesmaster said. “They probably didn’t even recognize me.”
But she endured some inequity.
“There was someone there that we were actually reporting on that I had noticed had come into the courthouse about a month prior,” Briesmaster said. “We had taken a photo of her in a sleeveless blouse.”
Briesmaster stressed that she was never forced to leave the courthouse, but chose to take up the bailiff’s advice without complaining.
She took everything in stride to do her job, and she considered the experience “comical.” She believes that she, her newspaper and the courts all learned valuable lessons.
Utah Courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said there are no regulations for sleeve lengths. Courts do not allow shorts, halter tops and flip flops, but judges can run their courtrooms however they seem fit.