My friend Shirley used to work in a snack stand at the local courthouse. “So many sad stories,” she would say. Listening to Shirley over the years made me curious about family court, where private lives intersect with public process. So on a recent morning I walked through the crowded lobby — with people in business suits, people in shorts and tank tops, people of all races and ages, hunched over papers with their lawyers, or standing silently alone, or rocking screaming babies — to sit on a back bench in one of the courtrooms.
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