A DAY IN PART 15 by Richard Ross


Law and Order in Family Court
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 A Bronx Family Court judge recounts his first full day on the bench, improvising his way through 57 blood- and tear-stained cases. When Judge Ross ascended to the Family Court bench in 1991 at age 47, he left behind a successful career in court administration. Appointment to the bench would be, he thought, ``the crown'' of his career, but it proved to be eerily isolating, as he discovered while settling into his new courtroom (in New York judicial parlance, a ``part''), a tiny, decrepit converted records storage room he dubs ``Part 15.'' There's no honeymoon for Judge Ross: Within minutes of robing, he's dispensing instant justice to the ``jammed-up lives'' that come before his creaky bench, issuing temporary orders of protection from violent spouses, removing children from crack-infested homes, assessing allegations of pedophilia in nasty custody battles. The incessant parade of unhappy families leaves Ross scant time to reflect: ``Decide and move on,'' he tells himself. Besides, ``it's an imperfect world and you're an imperfect judge.'' Ross's complacent attitude may possibly save him from bench-burnout, but it makes for a shallow, rather pointless memoir. A few of his cases are particularly haunting, such as that of the eight-year-old girl sexually abused by her grandfather, and the case of the four-year old cerebral- palsy patient tortured by her adoptive parents, but all Ross offers in the way of jurisprudence is a tip of the hat to due process of law and a pledge to take abused children out of abusive homes: ``The law requires it: end of story.'' The frequent use of civil- service jargon lends authenticity but also obfuscation. ``Had justice been done?. . . . I wasn't asking,'' writes Ross at the end of his day. And he still isn't.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-56858-089-4
Page count: 192pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997


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