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Noach Dear has worn many hats during his nearly 30 years of public service. The hat he currently dons is that of a jurist, as he presides over a courtroom in Downtown Brooklyn, which handles all of the consumer debt cases in the borough. Each and every day, in Judge Dear's modest courtroom, a real-life drama unfolds as hardworking people, struggling to make ends meet, step up to the bench in a desperate effort to deal with mounting piles of debt they have scant hope of repaying. While these litigants may not be seeking millions of dollars or trying to avoid a stiff prison term, they are facing a frightening situation in which their families' financial futures are hanging in the balance.