“Furthermore,” Attorney Roberts droned on emotionlessly, “the precedent established in Gibbard v. Tamborello (2003-02-18) clearly states that boundary lines drawn with only analog surveying equipment are equally as valid as those drawn with computer aid. In the future, as the number of GPS satellites in orbit dwindles, the amount of…”
He would go on like this for a while, Judge Roach was sure. Mustn’t… yawn… Must… keep it… together…
But all the willpower in the world would not have been enough to protect against the crashing tide of Roberts’ sonorous and soporific voice.
“Tired, Your Honor?” Roberts queried. “Or maybe just a lack of interest?”
Judge Roach shrugged. “To be frank, I’m entirely disinterested in the outcome of this case.”
“Actually, Your Honor,” Roberts began, “disinterested isn’t the word you’re looking for. If you’re bored by my arguments, then you’re uninterested. The trick is that interest means two different things in the two words, despite their appearing so alike.
“In the case of the former, it’s interest in the sense of ‘attention.’ If something cannot keep your attention, then you are uninterested. The latter is more like ‘a personal interest’ or ‘a personal stake.’ If the outcome of an event won’t change your life in any way—or possibly any significant way—then you can be said to be disinterested.”
Judge Roach buried his face in his hands. “Roberts, do you listen when people speak, or do you just wait for keywords and have pre-programmed responses?”
“I, uh, what? I mean, Your Honor?”
“Disinterested is exactly the word I am looking for. I’m a judge, for Pete’s sake. I can’t have a personal stake in the outcome of any case; that would be a conflict of interest!”
Roberts looked concerned. “Well, that’s… But I said ‘interested’ and you said ‘interested,’ but you meant ‘interested’ when you said ‘interested,’ and I said that you said what said I you I they said—”
Suddenly, he exploded.
Bits of metal and wire flew through the air. Judge Roach ducked under his bench to avoid being pelted by them.
“Damn robo-attorneys…” he muttered.