Taking up the role of a judge comes with certain expectations and societal norms, including a clean-cut appearance.
But what about body art? Can judges have tattoos, or do they need to be covered up at all times in the courtroom?
Despite the obvious growth of acceptance of tattoos in the general society, there are still some industries (law included) that view them as unprofessional so the answer isn’t a simple yes or no and will depend on a variety of factors.
Can Judges Have Tattoos?
The answer varies by jurisdiction and individual court policies. In some areas, judges are allowed to have visible tattoos as long as they do not display offensive or inappropriate imagery. In other places, judges may be required to cover up their tattoos while on the bench.
What we do know for sure is that there’s no federal or state law that forbids judges from having tattoos – at least not when it comes to the US.
Related: US Tattoo Laws
The American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct only mentions appearance in a general sense, stating that judges should “maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office.”
Some argue that a judge’s appearance should have no bearing on their ability to do their job fairly and impartially. However, others argue that having visible tattoos may affect the perception of the judge by parties in the courtroom and could potentially harm their credibility.
Ultimately, it will be up to the individual judge and the policies of their jurisdiction to determine if they can have visible tattoos while on the bench.
But regardless of personal or professional opinions on body art, judges should always conduct themselves with dignity and integrity in the courtroom.
Types of Tattoos a Judge Should Avoid
Certain sorts of tattoos should be avoided if you want to minimize the chances of any negative consequences in your job.
Anything that could be perceived as offensive or contentious, such as swear words or hate symbols, should obviously be avoided at all costs (not that you should consider having these tattoos in the first place).
Similarly, political or religious tattoos may impair a judge’s ability to appear fair and objective in their decisions. Additionally, anything that could be seen as overly flashy or ostentatious should also be avoided in order to maintain a professional appearance.
Your tattoos’ message and design are significant, but so is their placement.
Tattoos on the face, neck, or hands may be perceived as unprofessional and may jeopardize your reputation as a judge. Some professions, such as flight attendants, pilots, and in some situations school teachers, often face many hardships with these areas.
Choose body parts that are easily covered instead. The arms, legs, back, and shoulders are among the most secure options for a judge.
Judges Tattoo Ideas
If you’re one of these judges who loves tattoos, why not get one that represents your profession and passion?
Here are some ideas for judges tattoos:
- Scales of justice
- Blindfolded lady justice
- Courtroom scene
- Legal quote or saying
- “Innocent until proven guilty”
These are just some of many potential ideas, but ultimately the choice is yours.
Of course, being a judge you are not obliged to pick a tattoo related to your profession. Just make sure whatever design you choose, it aligns with the policies and expectations of your jurisdiction.
It’s Still Okay to Discriminate Against Tattooed People
There’s a reason why you don’t see many tattooed judges.
This is due to the fact that tattoo prejudice is still prevalent in many industries, including the legal system. Despite society’s rising acceptance of tattoos, they are frequently regarded as unprofessional and might jeopardize career prospects.
This type of discrimination is frequently based on outmoded beliefs and personal biases, rather than any real evidence that a person’s tattoos will have an impact on their job performance.
Having said that, it is only happening because it is legal (at least when it comes to the United States).
Employers are not permitted to discriminate against employees or potential hires based on their race, religion, gender, national origin, or disability, according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Unfortunately, as of now, this excludes tattoos.
Why Is the Law Sector Still Strict on Tattoos?
The law sector, including the judiciary, is often seen as more traditional and conservative compared to other industries. This is reflected in the stricter dress codes and overall professional appearance expected of judges.
Additionally, the law sector values impartiality above all else. Having tattoos that could potentially make a judge appear biased or unprofessional can harm their reputation and credibility within their field.
It’s also worth noting that there are still negative stigmas and stereotypes surrounding tattoos in general, especially among older generations who may hold positions of power within the legal industry.
With that said, it’s important to note that other sectors of the law industry – even lawyers – also face discrimination against visible tattoos.
As the acceptance of tattoos continues to grow, hopefully, laws and stigmas will begin to change as well. Until then, make sure to consider the potential impact on your career before getting inked, especially if you’re pursuing a career in the law sector.
Judges & Tattoos: Final Word
To sum up, can judges have tattoos?
Ultimately, it’s up to each individual judge to weigh the potential consequences and discrimination that may come with having visible tattoos.
While there are still stigmas and prejudices against tattooed individuals in the law sector, these attitudes are slowly changing as society becomes more accepting of tattoos.
If you do decide to get a tattoo, be sure to choose a design that aligns with your personal and professional values and consider where it will be placed on your body.
And remember, just because your industry may not currently accept visible tattoos doesn’t mean you have to hide or cover them up – use it as an opportunity to challenge outdated norms and advocate for equal opportunities for all.
Last but not least, we’d love to hear from you if you’re a judge with tattoos. What are your experiences and insights on this topic? Share them with us in the comments below.