The power of sof skills (ted#6)

Dziś nietypowa prezentacja. Jej autorką jest Victoria Pratt, urodzona w USA, ale pochodząca z niezamożnej dominikańskiej rodziny emigrantów. Obecnie jest sędzią w sądzie stanowym w Newark, mieście leżącym w aglomeracji Nowego Jorku. Nie dajcie się zwieść pozornie mało atrakcyjnemu wystąpieniu, językowi niełatwemu może do zrozumienia. Victoria Pratt pokazuje tak dobitnie, że już bardziej pewnie się nie da, siłę wpływu umiejętności miękkich. A one przecież nic nie kosztują!

W każdy poniedziałek na tym blogu ukazuje się kolejna propozycja jednej prezentacji TED’a do posłuchania, zastanowienia się. Wszystkie one dotyczą tematyki omawianej na blogu.

UWAGA: na końcu tego wpisu wyjaśniono jak można, w różnych wariantach, korzystać z materiałów pomocniczych podanych poniżej.

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Victoria Pratt   “How judges can show respect”


I. Author, title, link

II. TRUE/FALSE question

III. Open questions

IV. English script [[[with Polish explanations of selected vocabulary]]]

V. Polish script

VI. Answers to TRUE/FALSE questions

I. Author, title, link


Victoria Pratt   “How judges can show respect”, Nov. 2017


II. TRUE/FALSE questions


  1. Transgender person is someone who changed his or her sex.     TRUE/FALSE
  2. Procedural fairness is a requirement that all the participants of the court trial be treated fairly.    TRUE/FALSE
  3. The speaker can speak Spanish.    TRUE/FALSE
  4. The father of the speaker was a doctor.    TRUE/FALSE
  5. The speaker’s mother emigrated from Cuba to the USA.    TRUE/FALSE
  6. Most people when they enter the court buildings find that place friendly.     TRUE/FALSE
  7. The speaker believes that when people are better treated in the court, there is more chance that they will obey the law in the future.     TRUE/FALSE
  8. The speaker believes that the way the judge is talking to the defendant, does make a difference.     TRUE/FALSE
  9. An alcohol-related liver desease never leads to death.     TRUE/FALSE
  10. If a judge often plays golf, there is a very good chance they he or she understands poor people well.     TRUE/FALSE
  11. The knowledge of English among defendants is often poor.     TRUE/FALSE
  12. The work of a traffic court judge is equally stressful as that of a criminal court judge.     TRUE/FALSE
  13. Part Two Courtroom was known among judges for being a tough place to work.     TRUE/FALSE
  14. Sometimes the court can sentence a person to councelling sessions or community work.     TRUE/FALSE
  15. The speaker believes that judges could better influence the society by appropriate use of their soft skills.     TRUE/FALSE


III. Open questions

  1. According to the speaker, which elements of soft skills are most important for creating positive impressions to the audience? What is your opinion?
  2. Do you think that a different behavior of the judge, Ms. Pratt, was noticed by the defendants? How did they react?
  3. Do you believe that if people are treated in court with respect and dignity, they will better obey the law?
  4. Do you believe that an appropriate use of soft skills can bring similar effects also in other non-legal areas? What effects could it bring?

IV. English script     [[[with Polish translation of selected vocabulary]]]



„Judge, I want to tell you something. I want to tell you something. I been watching you and you’re not two-faced [[[nie masz dwóch twarzy]]]. You treat everybody the same.”

That was said to me by a transgender [[[transseksualista]]] prostitute who before I had gotten on the bench [[[ławka]]] had fired [[[wyrzucić]]] her public defender [[[obrońca]]], insulted [[[obrazić]]] the court officer and yelled [[[krzyczeć]]] at the person sitting next to her, „I don’t know what you’re looking at. I look better than the girl you’re with.”


She said this to me after I said her male name low enough so that it could be picked up by the record [[[zarejestrować]]] , but I said her female name loud enough so that she could walk down the aisle [[[przejście między ławkami]]] towards counselor’s [[[adwokat]]] table with dignity. This is procedural justice, also known as procedural fairness [[[bycie fair]]], at its best.

You see, I am the daughter of an African-American garbageman [[[śmieciarz]]] who was born in Harlem and spent his summers in the segregated South.

Soy la hija de una peluquera dominicana. [[[hiszp: jestem córką fryzjerki z Dominikany]]]



I do that to make sure you’re still paying attention.


I’m the daughter of a Dominican beautician [[[kosmetyczka]]] who came to this country for a better life for her unborn children. My parents taught me, you treat everyone you meet with dignity [[[godność]]] and respect [[[szacunek]]], no matter how they look, no matter how they dress, no matter how they spoke. You see, the principles of fairness were taught to me at an early age, and unbeknownst to me [[[bez mojej wiedzy]]], it would be the most important lesson that I carried with me to the Newark Municipal Court bench. And because I was dragged off [[[wyciągnąć kogoś]]] the playground [[[plac zabaw]]] at the early age of 10 to translate for family members as they began to migrate [[[emigrować]]] to the United States, I understand how daunting [[[zniechęcający]]] it can be for a person, a novice [[[nowicjusz]]], to navigate [[[orientować się]]] any government system.

Every day across America and around the globe, people encounter [[[trafiać do]]] our courts, and it is a place that is foreign, intimidating [[[onieśmielające]]] and often hostile [[[wrogie]]] towards them. They are confused about the nature of their charges [[[oskarżenia]]], annoyed about their encounters with the police and facing consequences that might impact their relationships, their finances and even their liberty.

Let me paint a picture for you of what it’s like for the average person who encounters our courts. First, they’re annoyed as they’re probed [[[badany]]] going through court security [[[służby ochrony]]]. They finally get through court security, they walk around the building, they ask different people the same question and get different answers. When they finally get to where they’re supposed to be, it gets really bad [[[już jest niedobrze]]] when they encounter the courts.



What would you think if I told you that you could improve people’s court experience [[[wrażenia ludzi z sądu]]], increase their compliance [[[przestrzeganie]]] with the law and court orders, all the while increasing the public’s trust in the justice system with a simple idea? Well, that simple idea is procedural justice [[[sprawiedliwość proceduralna]]] and it’s a concept that says that if people perceive [[[dostrzegać]]] they are treated fairly and with dignity and respect, they’ll obey the law. Well, that’s what Yale professor Tom Tyler found when he began to study as far back in the ’70s why people obey [[[przestrzegać]]] the law. He found that if people see the justice system as a legitimate [[[prawowity]]] authority to impose rules and regulations, they would follow them. His research concluded that people would be satisfied with the judge’s rulings [[[wyroki]]], even when the judge ruled against them, if they perceived that they were treated fairly and with dignity and respect. And that perception of fairness begins with what? Begins with how judges speak to court participants.

Now, being a judge is sometimes like having a reserve seat [[[zarezerwowane miejsce]]] to a tragic reality show that has no commercial interruptions [[[wstawki reklamowe]]] and no season finale [[[zakończenie co sezon]]]. It’s true. People come before me handcuffed [[[w kajdankach]]], drug-sick [[[naćpani]]], depressed [[[w depresji]]], hungry and mentally ill [[[psychicznie chorzy]]]. When I saw that their need for help was greater than my fear of appearing vulnerable [[[delikatny, wrażliwy]]] on the bench, I realized that not only did I need to do something, but that in fact I could do something.


The good news is is that the principles of procedural justice are easy and can be implemented as quickly as tomorrow. The even better news, that it can be done for free.



The first principle is voice. Give people an opportunity [[[możliwość]]] to speak, even when you’re not going to let [[[pozwalać]]] them speak. Explain it. „Sir, I’m not letting you speak right now. You don’t have an attorney [[[prawnik]]]. I don’t want you to say anything that’s going to hurt [[[zaszkodzić]]] your case.” For me, assigning essays [[[esej, dokument pisany]]] to defendants [[[osoba pozwana]]] has been a tremendous way of giving them voice.

I recently gave an 18-year-old college student an essay. He lamented [[[użalać się]]] his underage [[[nieletni]]] drinking charge [[[zarzut]]]. As he stood before me reading his essay, his voice cracking [[[przerywany]]] and his hands trembling [[[trzęsący się]]], he said that he worried that he had become an alcoholic like his mom, who had died a couple of months prior due to alcohol-related liver [[[wątroba]]] disease [[[choroba]]].


You see, assigning [[[zadać komuś]]] a letter to my father, a letter to my son, „If I knew then what I know now …” „If I believed one positive thing about myself, how would my life be different?” gives the person an opportunity to be introspective [[[introspektywny]]], go on the inside, which is where all the answers are anyway. But it also gives them an opportunity to share something with the court that goes beyond their criminal record [[[historia kryminalna]]] and their charges.

The next principle is neutrality [[[neutralność]]]. When increasing public trust in the justice system, neutrality is paramount [[[najważniejszy]]]. The judge cannot be perceived to be favoring one side over the other. The judge has to make a conscious [[[świadomy]]] decision not to say things like, „my officer,” „my prosecutor,” [[[prokurator]]] „my defense attorney.” And this is challenging when we work in environments where you have people assigned to your courts, the same people coming in and out of your courts as well. When I think of neutrality, I’m reminded of when I was a new Rutgers [[[uczelnia w USA]]] Law grad and freshly minted [[[świeżo dyplomowany]]] attorney, and I entered an arbitration [[[arbitraż]]] and I was greeted by two grey-haired men who were joking about the last game of golf they played together and planning future social outings [[[wspólne wyjścia]]]. I knew my client couldn’t get a fair shot in that forum.

The next principle is understand. It is critical that court participants understand the process, the consequences of the process and what’s expected of them. I like to say that legalese [[[żargon prawniczy]]] is the language we use to confuse [[[zdezorientować]]].




I am keenly aware [[[doskonale sobie zdaję sprawę]]] that the people who appear before me, many of them have very little education and English is often their second language.


So I speak plain [[[prosty]]] English in court. A great example of this was when I was a young judge — oh no, I mean younger judge.



When I was a younger judge, a senior judge comes to me, gives me a script [[[skrypt]]] and says, „If you think somebody has mental health [[[zdrowie psychiczne]]] issues, ask them these questions and you can get your evaluation.” [[[opinia]]] So the first time I saw someone who had what I thought was a mental health issue, I went for my script and I started to ask questions.


„Um, sir, do you take psycho — um, psychotrop – psychotropic [[[psychotropowe]]] medication [[[lekarstwo]]]?”




„Uh, sir, have you treated with a psychiatrist before?”






But it was obvious that the person was suffering from mental illness. One day, in my frustration, I decided to scrap [[[wyrzucić]]] the script and ask one question.



„Ma’am, do you take medication to clear your mind?”



„Yeah, judge, I take Haldol for my schizophrenia, Xanax for my anxiety [[[niepokój]]].”



The question works even when it doesn’t.



„Mr. L, do you take medication to clear your mind?”



„No, judge, I don’t take no medication to clear my mind. I take medication to stop the voices in my head, but my mind is fine.”






You see, once people understand the question, they can give you valuable information that allows the court [[[sąd]]] to make meaningful [[[znaczące]]] decisions about the cases that are before them.



The last principle is respect, that without it none of the other principles can work. Now, respect can be as simple as, „Good afternoon, sir.” „Good morning, ma’am.” It’s looking the person in the eye who is standing before you, especially when you’re sentencing [[[wydawać wyrok]]] them. It’s when I say, „Um, how are you doing today? And what’s going on with you?” And not as a greeting, but as someone who is actually interested in the response. Respect is the difference between saying, „Ma’am, are you having difficulty understanding the information in the paperwork?” versus, „You can read and write, can’t you?” when you’ve realized there’s a literacy [[[umiejętności czytania I pisania]]] issue. And the good thing about respect is that it’s contagious [[[zaraźliwy]]]. People see you being respectful [[[pełen szacunku]]] to other folks [[[ludzi]]] and they impute              [[[narzucać]]] that respect to themselves. You see, that’s what the transgender prostitute was telling me. I’m judging you just as much as you think you may be judging me.



Now, I am not telling you what I think, I am telling you what I have lived [[[przeżyć]], using procedural justice to change the culture at my courthouse [[[sąd]] and in the courtroom [[[sala sądowa]]]. After sitting comfortably for seven months as a traffic court judge [[[sędzia zajmujący sie wykroczeniami drogowymi]]], I was advised that I was being moved to the criminal court, Part Two, criminal courtroom. Now, I need you to understand, this was not good news.






It was not. Part Two was known as the worst courtroom in the city, some folks would even say in the state. It was your typical urban courtroom with revolving door [[[obrotowe drzwi]]] justice, you know, your regular lineup of low-level offenders [[[osoby naruszające prawo]]]— you know, the low-hanging [[[niskowiszący]]] fruit, the drug-addicted prostitute, the mentally ill homeless person with quality-of-life tickets [[[mandaty dotyczące prowadzonego tryby życia]]], the high school dropout [[[ktoś, kto porzucił szkołę]]] petty [[[drobny]]] drug dealer and the misguided [[[wykolejony]]] young people — you know, those folks doing a life sentence 30 days at a time.



Fortunately, the City of Newark decided that Newarkers [[[mieszkańcy Newark]]] deserved better, and they partnered [[[weszli w partnerstwo]]] with the Center for Court Innovation and the New Jersey Judiciary [[[sądownictwo]]] to create Newark Community Solutions, a community court program that provided alternative sanctions [[[sankcje]]]. This means now a judge can sentence a defendant to punishment [[[kara]]] with assistance. So a defendant who would otherwise get a jail sentence [[[wyrok więzienia]]]would now be able to get individual counseling sessions [[[sesje terapeutyczne]]], group counseling sessions as well as community giveback [[[rekompensata]]], which is what we call community service.



The only problem is that this wonderful program was now coming to Newark and was going to be housed [[[mieścić się]]] where? Part Two criminal courtroom. And the attitudes [[[nastawienie]]] there were terrible [[[okropne]]]. And the reason that the attitudes were terrible there was because everyone who was sent there understood they were being sent there as punishment. The officers who were facing disciplinary actions [[[którym groziły kary dyscyplinarne]]] at times [[[czasami]]], the public defender and prosecutor felt like they were doing a 30-day jail sentence on their rotation [[[podczas swojej zmiany]]], the judges understood they were being hazed [[[być wystawionym na próbę]]] just like a college sorority or fraternity [[[amerykańskie organizacje studenckie]]. I was once told that an attorney who worked there referred to the defendants as „the scum [[[szumowiny]]] of the earth” and then had to represent them. I would hear things from folks like, „Oh, how could you work with those people? They’re so nasty [[[okropni]]]. You’re a judge, not a social worker.”



But the reality is that as a society, we criminalize [[[uznawać za karalne]]] social ills, then sent people to a judge and say, „Do something.” I decided that I was going to lead by example. So my first foray [[[pierwsza rzecz na start]]] into the approach came when a 60-something-year-old man appeared before me handcuffed [[[w kajdankach]]]. His head was lowered and his body was showing the signs of drug withdrawal [[[głód narkotyczny]]]. I asked him how long he had been addicted [[[uzależniony]]], and he said, „30 years.” And I asked him, „Do you have any kids?” And he said, „Yeah, I have a 32-year-old son.” And I said, „Oh, so you’ve never had the opportunity to be a father to your son because of your addiction.” He began to cry. I said, „You know what, I’m going to let you go home, and you’ll come back in two weeks, and when you come back, we’ll give you some assistance [[[pomoc]]] for your addiction.” Surprisingly, two weeks passed and he was sitting the courtroom. When he came up, he said, „Judge, I came back to court because you showed me more love than I had for myself.” And I thought, my God, he heard love from the bench? I could do this all day.






Because the reality is that when the court behaves differently, then naturally people respond differently. The court becomes a place you can go to for assistance, like the 60-something-year-old schizophrenic homeless woman who was in distress [[[w udręce]]] and fighting with the voices in her head, and barges [[[barki, statki]]] into court, and screams [[[krzyczy]]], „Judge! I just came by [[[zajść]]] to see how you were doing.” I had been monitoring her case for a couple of months, her compliance [[[przestrzeganie]]] with her medication, and had just closed out her case a couple of weeks ago. On this day she needed help, and she came to court. And after four hours of coaxing [[[nakłanianie]]] by the judge, the police officers and the staff, she is convinced [[[zdecydowała się]]] to get into the ambulance [[[karetka]]] that will take her to crisis unit [[[oddział pierwszej pomocy]] so that she can get her medication.



People become connected to their community when the court changes, like the 50-something-year-old man who told me, „Community service [[[prace społeczne]]] was terrible, Judge. I had to clean the park, and it was full of empty heroin envelopes [[[opakowania po heroinie]]], and the kids had to play there.” As he wrung [[[wykręcić]]] his hands, he confessed, „Judge, I realized that it was my fault, because I used that same park to get high [[[brać narkotyki]]], and before you sent me there to do community service, I had never gone to the park when I wasn’t high, so I never noticed the children playing there.” Every addict in the courtroom lowered their head. Who better to teach that lesson?



It helps the court reset [[[wyzerować]]] its relationship with the community, like with the 20-something-year-old guy who gets a job interview through the court program [[[dzięki programowi sądowemu]]]. He gets a job interview at an office cleaning company, and he comes back to court to proudly [[[dumnie]]] say, „Judge, I even worked in my suit after the interview, because I wanted the guy to see how bad I wanted the job.”



It’s what happens when a person in authority treats you with dignity and respect, like the 40-something-year-old guy who struts down [[[kroczy dumnie]]] the aisle and says, „Judge, do you notice anything different?” And when I look up, he’s pointing at his new teeth that he was able to get after getting a referral [[[skierowanie]]] from the program, but he was able to get them to replace the old teeth that he lost as a result of years of heroin addiction. When he looks in the mirror, now he sees somebody who is worth saving.



You see, I have a dream and that dream is that judges will use these tools to revolutionize [[[zrewolucjonizować]]] the communities that they serve. Now, these tools are not miracle cure-alls [[[cudowane leki na wszystko]]], but they get us light-years [[[lata świetlne]]] closer to where we want to be, and where we want to be is a place that people enter our halls of justice and believe they will be treated with dignity and respect and know that justice will be served [[[będzie się dziąła sprawiedliwość]]] there. Imagine that, a simple idea.



Thank you.





Judge, I want to tell you something. I want to tell you something. I been watching you and you’re not two-faced. You treat everybody the same.”


V. Polish script


Unavailable as of December 2017


VI. Answers to TRUE/FALSE questions

True: 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, 15       False: 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12



(*) Komentarz, co do sposobu korzystania z materiałów pomocniczych podanych na tym blogu 

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