First of all, let’s lay out a legal definition of twerking, particularly for lawyers who don’t understand it or who have yet to adopt it in their practices. According to a reputable legal dictionary currently under development, twerking is:
a dance move that involves a person shaking his or her hips and bottom in a bouncy up and down motion, causing it to shake, ‘wobble’ and ‘jiggle;’ to dance in a sexually suggestive twisting fashion; see also, freaking, grinding, booty dancing, butt dancing, and most things offensive to administrators.
Second of all, when we speak of twerking in the courtroom, we are talking about both definitions. The one that involves bouncing, wobbling, and jiggling, as well as the secondary definition that has its origins in 1980s dance movies and in nearly every early mating ritual throughout the planet.
Sure, a gaggle of high school students has recently been suspended for video-taping themselves twerking. But that was in California, and southern California at that. And sure, scores of other high-school students across the globe have been suspended for, say, doing the same thing since at least 1947, though under various different dance names. But don’t let that scare you off if you are considering twerking during your next court appearance. The ones in trouble today are high school students. You are a lawyer. Big twerking difference.
Here’s what we suggest:
Run It By Your Client
I read a publication recently about the need to keep clients informed about things you are working on for them. This admonition applies to twerking in the courtroom. Don’t bust out twerking for the first time in court, especially if the client is present. If you plan to twerk in court, lay out that strategy early in the litigation plan. As we like to say, twerk smart, don’t dance dumb. Booya.
Pick the Right Spot
Twerking against a wall in court is a great way to highlight the characteristic bouncy up and down motion and can increase the overall shake, wobble, and jiggle of your buttocks. Find a solid wall across from the jury box so that jurors have a good view. Face the wall as you twerk, as jurors may get the wrong impression if you face them while twerking. Feel free to twerk against the wall while upside down with your hands on the floor, though practice this in the office first, as it is often difficult to continue a legal argument while upside down with your hands on the floor and your buttocks shaking rapidly in a sexual fashion. Just a suggestion.
Generally, ask permission of the court, which should be freely granted under the rules. If you are unable to approach the bench to twerk, make sure you have sufficient space around counsel table for twerking. Keep a suitable difference between your crotch and the table, though, as hitting the table with your crotch or buttocks could cause your legal research and other trial or hearing materials to fall off the table, leaving you disorganized and flustered for the next cross or direct examination. As with courtroom yoga, be cognizant of your surroundings.
Just because it’s twerking doesn’t mean you can show up to court in spandex and a loose-fitting sweatshirt. This is court, and the rules of court decorum still apply. Wear a typical dark suit and appropriate footwear, though you may want to invest in a twerking suit, which is tighter but more flexible in the pants or skirt and looser throughout the upper torso. If you need help, most reputable clothiers can help you find a litigation-ready twerking suit. All other dress codes apply, such as ties, respectable scarves, cufflinks, and underwear.
Have an Audience
It’s just plain stupid to bust out a bit of twerking at a motion for summary judgment or at a motion to compel. First, no one is around as an audience, so there is no real benefit to you or the client. Sure, there may be a transcript of the proceedings, but generally that would look like this:
COURT: Anything else, counsel? MR. PETERS: [Twerking] Nothing further, your honor.
See? Your presentation is reduced to a mere “Twerking” in the court transcript, often leading to comment and misinterpretation on appeal. Remember, unless opposing counsel agrees to mutual twerking in court, avoid twerking alone during routine motion hearings.
Certainly, twerking is not for all lawyers and it is not for all cases. We recommend it for ERISA litigation and hearings before an administrative law judge, as twerking can spice up an otherwise miserable and boring matter and leave a lasting impression on the fact-finder. We don’t recommend it for most criminal cases, except those in which you are prosecuting a corporate executive alleged to have defrauded pensioners of their life savings. Everyone loves the prosecuting attorney twerking in front of the perp with that one.