Holly Van Voast is a public nudity advocate in New York. She is so deeply entrenched in her beliefs that she stripped down in court.
Why was she in front of a judge in the first place? She was summoned to court for stripping in the middle of Grand Central. When she arrived at her hearing, she took off her black coat and revealed her breasts in the middle of court.
She did so in front of the judge. And her 89-year-old attorney.
And this isn't the first time she's been nude in what most people would consider an inappropriate locale. In fact, she's stripped in Times Square and the Staten Island Ferry.
So it was unsurprising (though surprising at the same time) that she'd decide to pull the stunt again.
The pro-nudity activist was lucky to escape the incident without any jail time. The court did ask her for one thing, however: an apology.
It's possible that Van Voast could have been slapped with a contempt charge with her courtroom striptease. Contempt charges can either be civil or criminal. They are usually handed down when someone disrespects or insults the authority of the court. Civil contempt charges are more often levied against those that defy court orders.
Criminal contempt charges, however, are meant to be punitive in some way. They have the goal of deterring future bad acts by the perpetrator. If Van Voast's judge wanted to issue a contempt charge she probably would have gone the criminal route.
So how exactly did Holly Van Voast manage to bare her top in court and escape unscathed? It's probably because these situations are up to a judge's discretion. And it seems the judge here was content to let any charges slide after the nudity advocate's apology.
- Woman Charged with Taking Off Her Clothes in Public Demonstrates Her Technique in Court (ABA Journal)
- Criminal Contempt of Court (FindLaw)
- S.F. Nudists Should Sit on Towels, Rep. Weiner Proposes (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
- Colorado Woman Wins Fight to Continue Topless Gardening Work (FindLaw's Legally Weird)