Drooping pants "foolish" but not illegal: New York judge

Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:20pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A New York judge has thrown out a summons issued to a man for wearing saggy pants, saying the U.S. Constitution protected people's right to dress as they please, even if they looked ridiculous doing so.

The ruling was in response to a citation Julio Martinez of the Bronx received last April for wearing his pants so low his underwear could be seen, according to court documents obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

The arresting officer wrote that Martinez's fashion style was in itself disorderly since he had "his pants down below his buttocks exposing underwear potentially showing private parts," according to Wednesday's decision.

But Judge Ruben Franco disagreed, saying even though the look was outrageous, it did not offend public order and decency.

"While most of us may consider it distasteful, and indeed foolish, to wear one's pants so low as to expose the underwear ... 'people can dress as they please, wear anything, so long as they do not offend public order and decency,'" Criminal Court Judge Ruben Franco wrote in People v. Martinez.

Low-hanging pants have roots in the prison system, where inmates are issued uniforms that are often too big, but are not allowed belts for safety reasons, according to the decision.

(Reporting by Karina Ioffee; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Jerry Norton)