The Multitasking Judge

The Multitasking Judge

Scenario: A judge conducting a hearing on whether to modify the no-contact order in a domestic-violence case pending trial also signs a stack of routine orders during the hearing. This scenario is based on the transcript of an actual court hearing. Note how the judge handles the prosecutor’s objection at 4:17.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What would a person in the courtroom observing the proceedings think the judge was doing during the hearing?
  2. How important was this hearing to the parties? What was the potential impact of the court’s decision on them?
  3. Would the defendant and the victim believe that the judge took their concerns seriously?
  4. How well did the judge react when the prosecutor objected to a statement made by the victim? Was the judge in full control of his courtroom at that moment?
  5. How might a judge better show that he or she is listening and takes the concerns of the parties seriously?

For Further Information:

  1. For information about multitasking, including the percentage of people who suffer a loss in performance when they multitask, see Pamela Casey, Kevin Burke, & Steve Leben, Minding the Court: Enhancing the Decision-Making Process, 49 Rev. 76, 89-90 (2013), available at
  2. For a discussion of courtroom behaviors that promote a sense of fair treatment, see So What Courtroom Behaviors Promote Perceptions of Fairness, Procedural Fairness Blog, Nov. 5, 2014, available at, or look at the Courtroom Observation Report citizen volunteers use for the Utah Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission, available at
  3. For general information about procedural-fairness principles applied to the court setting, go to