From the judge’s bench of any family court, the view of the world is rarely a pretty one. It is of splintered dreams and tarnished vows and the frustration and fury that inevitably follows.
One day in 1999, Judge Robert Scandurra had a view of something else as well. A divorced couple had been squabbling over child support and time with their 11-year-old son, but what Scandurra saw more clearly was that their lawyers couldn’t stand the sight of each other.
So Scandurra did something he had never done before and has rarely done since. He asked if he could meet with the mother and father alone in chambers, and their lawyers, to his surprise, agreed.
Over the next two hours, the judge and parents hashed through support payments, a parenting schedule, and a whole lot else. Toward the end of the session, the relieved parents, Jeff and Caroline, said they were trying to encourage their son, Vincent, to pick up a sport. Scandurra urged them to think of wrestling, elaborating on his days on the mat in high school and college. Both parents seemed to grab the idea and Scandurra, to his relief, never saw them in his court again.
When a judge makes a mistake, it’s often front-page news, film at 11, here we go again with an activist judiciary overstepping its bounds. It’s easy to forget, or to never realize, that every day, in quiet ways, judges can make a difference in people’s lives.
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A Good Match