Mistakes are going to happen and better an honest mistake than one through corruption.
There is no perfect system until someone can find a foolproof way to detect lies.
What I learned was:
1) to NEVER tell the adversary in a small claim trial ANYTHING before the trial,
2) that most people lie in court and
3) that judges don't know what they are doing even/especially in their own profession.
Your two small experiences with the courts hardly make point 2) and 3) the rule.
Point 1) is just common sense in that you don't want to be giving your opponent ammunition for use in a small claim trial.
I've sat in on and attended a week's worth of court hearings(at one time) and people lying appeared to be the exception.
Being able to tell when a person, that you don't know
, is lying is not as easy as you make it out to be and I doubt your ability to do so. Even judges are not infallible or can't always tell when someone is lying.
“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson