But then the octogenarian with a jewelry theft rap sheet so savory it became a documentary has done this all before.
At her arraignment for a recent alleged heist in Palm Desert, she wore her white hair combed neatly back and a metal chain around her small waist.
When Superior Court Judge Randall White called her name, she stood up slowly. He asked if she was being represented by a public defender.
"No, I'm not," she responded stoically.
He agreed to push her arraignment back to Nov. 5 since she plans to get her own lawyer.
"Thank you," she said. Then she smiled just enough for the fluorescent light to catch her high cheek bones as she was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
Over the years, Payne has had a fair share of prominent lawyers, who struggled to stop her from talking about her life of crime.
In the latest case, police said Payne walked into El Paseo Jewelers in Palm Desert and told a clerk she had received a $42,000 check from her insurance company to cover losses from a jewelry theft and that she wanted to buy a necklace.
Police said she asked to see a dozen or so different necklaces, then left without buying anything. She came back a little while later and asked to look at some other jewelry, including a ring. She said she would come back the next day with a cashier's check.
She walked out with a $22,000 ring - and Mehta didn't notice it was missing until much later.
"It's never happened that someone stole right in front of me," he said.
Payne's crimes have captured extensive media attention over the years. Most recently, she has been the subject of a documentary, "The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne." The documentary is currently on the film festival circuit.