I Just Wanted To Say...

What is your problem?

Name:
Location: Georgia, United States

I am me. More than I was, less than I will be. This is difficult. Facts-female, southern, mother and grandmother. Abstract-a Christian, a loner, intelligent, somewhat arrogant, impatient with stupidity, an unusual sense of humor.

6/25/2005

Disappointed in myself.

The incident happened more than a month ago. But I am still replaying it at odd times and can't seem to put it to rest. Since starting this, I have found that writing down something that is bothering me helps me deal better with it. As if putting a problem here takes it off the little wheel inside my head that keeps going around and around.
A female prosecutor and a male defense attorney were in my office for a conference with the judge about a defendant who had been found not competent. Judge was on the phone and I knew that he would be on it for more than a few minutes, so I told them to go ahead and have a seat. But instead, the female prosecutor started obviously flirting with the male attorney. She was rubbing her hands on his lapels and telling him how nice he always looked. He started backing up. But she kept rubbing his chest. She ended up backing him into the copy machine. He finally got around her and suddenly remembered he had to talk to another judge for a few minutes and said he would be back shortly. He looked very uncomfortable and unhappy.

This post is not going to be a critique of her behaviour, but of mine.

My first reaction was irritability that she had brought her behaviour into my office. This type of behaviour was not unusual for her. It was pretty commonplace, as a matter of fact, even in the courtroom, as long as the judge was off the bench. I was just relieved when she left. The staff attorney came out of her office and told me that she had seen some of it through her door. We talked for a few minutes about how unprofessional the prosecutor was, etc. I mentioned how uncomfortable the man had looked and suddenly I had another thought. If the roles had been reversed, if the man had been the aggressor and the woman had been the one made uncomfortable, would I have been so cavalier about tolerating it in my office. No, not ever. I would not have hesitated to put a stop to it.
Acknowledging that is personally embarrassing. There are no excuses for ignoring what should have been plain to see. More than just unprofessional, her behaviour was classic sexual harassment. It very easily could have become a quid pro quo situation. At the very least, the man was embarrassed not only by her behaviour, but by the fact that I was sitting in the same room observing it. And all I was concerned about at the time was my personal dislike of her acting that way in my office.
After stewing on it for a while, I decided to do what I could to make amends. While I have no authority over the prosecutor, I did quietly tell her that I didn't like what she did in my office and I didn't want it repeated. She was a little flippant about it, but at least I made my point. I did not see the attorney again for almost a week. When he did come in, I took the opportunity to talk to him privately and I told him that I knew the incident had made him uncomfortable and I apologized for my inaction. He was a little sheepish about it, but he admitted she had made him very uncomfortable, particularly since the judge could have walked out and seen it. I told the judge about the incident. I also talked to the staff attorney about feeling like I should not have ignored it and while she was good enough not to say anything to make me feel worse, she also didn't try to make any excuses to make me feel better and I appreciated it.
Open confession of a personal failure is considered to be a prerequisite for forgiveness. So maybe this mea culpa will help me be a little more forgiving of myself. Because I am really disappointed in myself.

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