Fault Lines
11 December 2017

Kentucky Judge Flips Over Pantless Defendant

August 4, 2016 (Fault Lines) — A Louisville, Kentucky judge was stunned when a female detainee was brought to her courtroom for sentencing without a jumpsuit – and appeared not to be wearing any pants either.

The woman’s defense attorney explained to the incredulous Judge Amber Wolf that her client had been held in custody for three days at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections Facility without a shower, and had been denied repeated requests for a pair of pants and feminine hygiene products.

“Excuse me? This is outrageous. Is this for real?” Judge Wolf said upon hearing this from the defense attorney. Footage of the proceeding was captured by the courtroom camera. Wolf continued, “Am I in the Twilight Zone? What is happening?”

Pulling no punches, Judge Wolf paused the proceedings to call the jail and demand an explanation for why the defendant hadn’t been provided with appropriate clothing and necessary hygiene products while in custody.

“I’m not trying to embarrass you. I’m very sorry,” Wolf said to the defendant as she called the jail. “Can we get her something to cover up with? Anything. Anything. Anything.”

The woman, who hasn’t been named, was in jail for failing to complete a diversion program for a 2014 shoplifting charge. She was brought to court wearing the same outfit she was arrested in- a long t-shirt that covered her short athletic shorts, making it look as if she had nothing on underneath.

The courtroom video footage showed the woman standing behind a podium, pulling on the hem of her long t-shirt in a futile effort to cover up the top of her exposed thighs.

I have a defendant who has been in you all’s jail for three days who is standing in front of me completely pants-less. Has no pants on. She has requested pants for three days and has been denied pants for three days. She has no pants and she is in court. And she has also been denied feminine hygiene products. What the hell is going on?

The explanation from corrections facility spokesperson Steve Durham was that it is not protocol for jail staff to provide inmates with prison uniforms immediately after they are taken into custody.

“She did not have jumpsuit pants on, she had the clothes she was wearing when she was arrested,” Metro Corrections said in a statement posted to their Facebook page. “Happens every day. ..tank tops, t-shirts, running short, short dresses, sandals and flip flops….it’s a hot Kentucky summer.”

The Louisville Metro Department of Corrections inmates’ handbook states that “prior to assigning inmates to permanent inmate living areas,” the inmates will be given clean jumpsuits and bed linens, but it does not provide any guidelines regarding when the department has to provide such items. The handbook also states that “inmates will receive a hygiene pack upon their assignment to a permanent housing location,” but does not mention whether correctional staff is required to distribute feminine hygiene products to inmates without a permanent assignment.

Deputy Director Dwayne Clark, who hastily brought the defendant a jumpsuit at the request of the irate Judge Wolf, sheepishly admitted to the judge that “dressed as she was,” she should have been given something more to wear.

“This is completely inhumane and unacceptable,” Wolf told the woman. “I’m sorry you had to go through this.”

4 Comments on this post.

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  • Jason K.
    4 August 2016 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    This does seem to be much ado about little. Her attire, while perhaps not what one would typically deem appropriate for court, was sufficient enough that she was comfortable with it in public.

    • Scott Jacobs
      4 August 2016 at 7:50 pm - Reply

      I wear a lot of things I would rather not have on in a courtroom.

      My “Fuck the police” t-shirt, for example…

  • Alan
    4 August 2016 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    There is so much missing in this post.

    Yes, the woman was indeed wearing street shorts. The shorts she chose to put on the morning she was arrested. She was in that jail for 1 1/2 days from Late Wednesday to Friday morning when they transported her to the court. They transported in the same street clothes she chose to wear on that hot Kentucky day. The policy there is that they do not strip short term prisoners out of their personal clothing if they are just there waiting to see the judge with expected bail.

    Regarding the feminine produces, Steve Durham also said in an interview said there is “an abundance” of such products available in the dorm where new inmates are housed so there was no reason to refuse anything especially something required and relatively inexpensive.

    This judge gave this girl who actually committed a crime and then blew off her MANDATORY divergence program that she agreed to in her plea bargain that kept her out of jail in 2014 a ‘get out of jail free’ card. I sure hope she revisits this case now that she’s more informed…

  • Breathless Over Pantless | Simple Justice
    5 August 2016 at 11:57 am - Reply

    […] The video of Judge Wolf reacting to a woman in court without pants has gone somewhat viral, which is surprising given that the video is 12 minutes of painful tedium. Keith Lee twitted it at me early, and I watched it, thinking only that Keith owed me 12 minutes of my life back. At the time, it appeared that the woman, who remains unnamed as she should, was in a state of undress that evoked outrage by the judge. Was she naked underneath her long t-shirt? Was she in her panties? It’s never said, but that she wasn’t in pants was clear and, to the judge, wholly unacceptable. […]