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Judge T.S. Ellis Is Back and Ready to Haunt Paul Manafort’s Suit-Wearing Dreams


Paul Manafort mugshot

Paul Manafort hoped to be able to dress up for his future court dates instead of wearing prison garb. Those dreams were quickly dashed as the court denied his request hours after his attorneys filed a motion on his behalf.

The convicted felon and former Trump campaign chair has a series of upcoming post-trial courtroom appearances in store as he continues to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller‘s wide-ranging probe into corruption and Russian electoral interference during the 2016 general election. So, Manafort, long a man of expensive tastes and clothes to match, clearly wanted to keep up appearances.

On Tuesday morning, Manafort’s legal team submitted a three-page order requesting “that he be dressed in a suit” for his Friday hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia–and in “all subsequent court appearances.”

On Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III rubbished this request in a brief and matter-of-fact one page denial. Judge Ellis noted:

Defendant has moved to appear in a suit rather than prison attire. Defendants who are in custody post-conviction are, as a matter of course, not entitled to appear for sentencing or any other hearing in street clothing. This defendant should be treated no differently from other defendants who are in custody post-conviction.

The court’s order continued, “[D]efendant’s motion to wear street clothing to all future proceedings is DENIED.”

Manafort’s bid to stay fresh was always a bit of a long-shot.

While criminal defendants during the trial stage are constitutionally entitled to appear in non-prison attire if they timely make such requests–on the basis that appearing in prison clothes before a jury would be unduly prejudicial and therefore potentially violate the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of Due Process–criminally convicted defendants are not entitled to the same wardrobe choices.

To paraphrase the poet Sean Carter: Manafort doesn’t get to changes clothes. But he still has to go to court.

Manafort’s hearing scheduled for this Friday is focused on sentencing issues.

[image via Alexandria Jail]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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