My Cousin Vinny Moment: Judge Stops Proceedings Over Prosecutor’s Neckwear

Warren Zier could have used from blind justice this month when he appeared before Milwaukee Circuit Judge William Sosnay wearing an ascot.  Putting aside the question of the stylistic choices of an ascot for a court appearance, Sosnay saw the item as a violation of court rules. However, prosecutor Zier could have a case — and a line of harrumphing ascot-wearing prigs in protest behind him.

The prosecutor was ruled out of line by the judge because the courthouse rules require neckties.  While Zier’s red ascot matched his red handkerchief, it was still viewed as something of an eyesore for the judge.

 “This is not about the definition of an ascot or a necktie,” Sosnay said in court, addressing a reporter in the gallery directly while a case waited to be heard. “This is an issue which I believe deals with the integrity of the court.”Then he called the neckwear inappropriate given his longstanding policy, which only Zier has flouted: no ascots in lieu of neckties for formal proceedings.

It was a true scene out of My Cousin Vinny. For those who did not see the scene . . .

Judge: Mr. Gambini?

Vinny: Yes Judge!

Judge: Are you mocking me with that outfit?

Vinny: Mocking you? No Judge I’m not mocking you.

Judge: Then explain that out-fit?

Vinny: I bought a new suit, you’ve seen it and now its covered in mud. So I had to get a new suit. And the only place in town where you can a new suit is closed for flu. Yeah, the whole store got the flu! So I had to buy this at a secondhand store. So its either the leather jacket which I know you hate or this! So I wore this, ridiculous thing for you!

As for the ascot, I disagree with Mr. Zier’s stylistic choice but I would die for this right to choose it, to paraphrase a patriotic mantra. Indeed, I think the good judge is blinded by his prejudice against the ascot class.

The ascot is formally called an “ascot tie,” and like the modern tie is traced to the same neckwear roots: the esteemed cravat. Of course, while technically neckwear, Mr. Zier’s choice would seem more appropriate for an invitation to the Ascot Racecourse, where the item got its name in the Edwardian era. I suppose, since it is viewed more appropriate to morning dress, the question should be the time of the hearing.

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5 thoughts on “My Cousin Vinny Moment: Judge Stops Proceedings Over Prosecutor’s Neckwear”

  1. I’m not sure whether I’ve been acknowledged, insulted or dismissed. It should be duly noted though, that at the end of my transgressing missive I did lay the groundwork for a plea of non compos mentis.

    Favorite contemporary writer – Robertson Davies
    Favorite Actors – The Three Stooges
    Hobby – Making amends

    Now if you don’t mind, I’m feeling a little vulnerable and have grown uncomfortable around all these neckties.

  2. Quotations about Puns

    The goodness of the true pun is in the direct ratio of its intolerability. ~Edgar Allan Poe, Marginalia, 1849

    A pun is a short quip followed by a long groan. ~Author Unknown

    A pun is the lowest form of humor, unless you thought of it yourself. ~Doug Larson

    Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted. ~Fred Allen

    When one hears a pun, one feels as though one has been pushed over without one’s consent. ~Graycie Harmon

    Puns are little “plays on words” that a certain breed of person loves to spring on you and then look at you in a certain self-satisfied way to indicate that he thinks that you must think that he is by far the cleverest person on Earth now that Benjamin Franklin is dead, when in fact what you are thinking is that if this person ever ends up in a lifeboat, the other passengers will hurl him overboard by the end of the first day even if they have plenty of food and water. ~Dave Barry, Why Humor Is Funny

    A lurking pun is the worst pun, one the offender has been waiting to spring on you. ~Harry Mahtar

    A pun does not commonly justify a blow in return. But if a blow were given for such cause, and death ensued, the jury would be judges both of the facts and of the pun, and might, if the latter were of an aggravated character, return a verdict of justifiable homicide. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, 1858

    Punning and groaning are brothers. ~B.F. Tucson

    A pun is not bound by the laws which limit nicer wit. It is a pistol let off at the ear; not a feather to tickle the intellect. ~Charles Lamb, “Popular Fallacies: That the Worst Puns are the Best,” Last Essays of Elia, 1833

    A man who could make so vile a pun would not scruple to pick a pocket. ~John Dennis, 1781

    In the pun, two strings of thought are tangled into one acoustic knot. ~Arthur Koestler

    A good pun is its own reword. ~Author Unknown

    I’m an incorrigible punster. Do not incorrige me. ~Author Unknown (Thanks, Bob)

    If you trip over a pun in your speaking it’s not so bad but to intentionally jump on one is a true offense. ~Graycie Harmon

    Puns are the gag hand buzzers of conversation. It hurts a bit but everyone gets a good laugh out of it. ~Grey Livingston

    People who make puns are like wanton boys that put coppers on the railroad tracks. They amuse themselves and other children, but their little trick may upset a freight train of conversation for the sake of a battered witticism. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, 1858

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  3. This is both amusing and sad. I regularly wear a neck scarf as casual attire. A cravat is a neck-tie and should not be confused with an ascot or scarf. Scarves are worn with an open or closed collared shirt and meant as much for comfort as they are adornment. Cravats are very wide neck-ties that are worn with a hidden knot and very often a stick pin. Modern versions are very typical in parts of Europe, but style wise they aren’t a big hit.

    An ascot, to anyone with a sartorial sense, is in the same league as a turtle neck sweater under a sport coat – casual wear. I’m afraid the attorney in this debacle has arrived at a confrontation with nary a thread of evidence to support the fabric of his assertion.

    However, had he worn a cravat, which may look mildly out of place without a powdered wig, he would have had at least been able to weave a defensible yarn.

    My apologies … I literally, couldn’t stop.

  4. Darn, I guess I will have to scrap my plan of wearing a brocaded smoking jacket, ascot, and monocle to my next court appearance.

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