In my job, I see the extremes of society come into contact with each other every day: The rich and powerful (the judges) and the poor and powerless (litigants and defendants). I notice how the judiciary, in terms of micro-moments, frequently ignores the plight of the litigants. Over and over again, as the witness cries on the stand while recounting some terrible moment in their life, the judge leans over to whisper to the clerk “Do you want to take a break yet?” or surfs the internet idly. I saw a whole family law hearing where the judge stared fixedly and typed frantically at the screen on her computer, totally ignoring the evidence. When the witness had answered the final question, everyone just sat there while the judge continued typing. The clock ticked on. Finally the judge asked, “Oh? Are you done?” and rolled her eyes.
Yet they can be capable of great compassion to those they see as equals. If another judge enters the room, or a high standing District Attorney, the judge immediately interrupts the proceedings and asks courteously how they can help. If a high ranking DA loses their temper, they can fall all over themselves apologizing. Try that as a defense attorney, or a witness, or a juror, or, God forbid, a criminal defendant and see what happens.
Yet poor people, who rely upon social networks for their very survival, are very attuned to social nuances. Criminals are extremely aware of such things, on a moment to moment basis. They have to be.
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