Washington Judge's Hats-Off Order Angers Cancer Patient

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A Seattle-area judge was unapologetic Monday after he ordered a woman who had lost her hair while undergoing cancer treatment to remove her knitted hat or leave his courtroom.

District Court Judge Holly Hollenbeck on Friday ordered visitors to his packed courtroom to remove their hats. All complied, except Bev Williams, 43, of Richland, the Tri-City Herald reported. Williams was in court supporting her daughter, who was facing a misdemeanor charge.

"I was embarrassed. It made me cry," said Williams, who recently completed six months of chemotherapy for cancer.

Williams told court officers she couldn't remove the beanie as Hollenbeck had ordered, and was then told to leave, the newspaper reported.

Hollenbeck said each judge is different in how the no-hat rule is enforced.

"I ask everybody to remove hats," Hollenback told the newspaper, noting that he only has relaxed that rule once, for religious reasons.

"I am very understanding with people who battle with cancer," said. "My own mother died from cancer. I've had hundreds of cancer victims come through my court, and I've never had one not remove their hat, ever."

He added, "Refusal to remove shows contempt for the court and for the judge."

But Williams didn't see it that way. "It was rude and uncalled for," she told the newspaper.