Judge slams barristers for wearing wigs
03 June 2016
An Australian judge has blasted barristers for wearing wigs in the Victorian Supreme Court.
Earlier this year Victoria's Chief Justice Marilyn Warren issued an order forbidding judges from wearing their traditional horsehair wigs, except in "exceptional circumstances", presumably
a cold head or a bad haircut. It wasn't entirely clear whether the edict also applied to advocates, until Judge Kevin Bell told off five barristers for appearing bewigged in his court last week.
Ordering them to remove the offending syrups, Bell said, "You are not showing, and neither are your colleagues showing, the respect that I expect of the Chief Justice from you and I want to record my profound disappointment that one, two, three, four, five members of this bar table have wigs on".
He added, "though I applaud the strength of character of your junior who does not".
Barrister James Mighell QC replied that no offence was intended. Bell retorted that, nonetheless, "I experience disrespect".
A feature of the state's courts since the 1860s, Warren said wigs no longer had a place in the modern courtroom and were of no assistance to the administration of justice. "She is the constitutional chief of the judicial system of Victoria and has directed that judges not wear wigs
", said Bell, possibly jealous that he could no longer wear a wig, "and you five stand there wearing wigs – it’s untenable".
When counsel removed them, he ordered, "They will need to be put away as well; I don’t want them to be seen by the jury at all".
The court has since issued a notice clarifying that barristers must also be wig-free, because if judges aren't allowed to look old school, no-one can.