“The kids need haircuts!” were the first words Michael said when he walked into the library conference room for the mediation with his lawyer.

“I’d get them one if you would pay some child support!” shot back Sandy, his estranged wife, who was already seated in the conference room with her lawyer.

Before the exchange could heat up any more, retired Judge O’Malley, dressed nattily in a tweed sport coat, looked up from his papers at the head of the conference table and peered over his reading glasses.

“Let me give both of you a tip,” he said in his slow, quiet voice that demanded attention.  “The court doesn’t like hysterical, angry witnesses.  If it’s a close call, and one party is hysterical and emotional and the other one is calm and rational, the judge is usually going to go with the one that’s calm.”

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