Don’t put too much weight on first impressions

By: 
By Judge Donald Watts, Manistee Justice Court

When I first became a judge for the Manistee Justice Court, my mom attended the ceremony in which I was sworn in. This is referred to as “The Investiture Ceremony.” It is a formal ceremony in which a judge swears his or her oath to the office that he or she now holds.
As all of you know, judges traditionally wear black robes. I am no exception. During the ceremony, I put on my robe for the first time. The robe serves several purposes; it immediately identifies me as the judge in a courtroom setting. Personally, it also reminds me of the responsibility I have to the citizens of Maricopa County. It also reminds me I should not have any prejudices when making my rulings. This simply means I should make my ruling on what is presented to the court and what the law says and never based on any personal opinion.
Like all good sons, I agreed to have my picture taken with my mother while wearing my robe at the ceremony. I am not very fond of pictures of myself, but this particular picture turned out pretty good and my mom had it framed and later put in her living room.
A few months later, my mom’s friend saw the picture and commented that it must be nice to have a son that sings in the choir. Singing is not my best quality; as a matter of fact, I am the only person I know that was asked to leave a choir. My mom explained that I did not sing in the choir, but that I was a justice of the peace. Her first impression of me was not remotely close to what my robe represented. They both got a good laugh. 
Personally I’ve never been fond of first impressions because they are usually wrong. All of us have good days and bad days. I am sure you don’t want people to make permanent opinions about you if you just happen to have a bad day. Give that person an opportunity to disprove (or prove) your initial impression. 

Lesson from the bench: Always put your best foot forward by not putting too much weight on first impressions. 

Judge Watts’s webpage is DonaldWatts.info.
 

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