Having clerked for the Supreme Court of New York (trial level folks, watch Law & Order), which is above a small claims court, I can tell you that judges don't read briefs. Their law clerks do. On the first and second pages are the summary of the arguments and the facts, you can tell from this is the arguments are new ones (which they are less than 1% of the time) or if the arguments have a real chance (Out of every 100 briefs I read, I would say 85 had a chance). When you have 300 pages to read every day, there is no point in reading an argument you've read before that is a loser, especially when you have bad facts. ALSO, obvious winners are often skimmed (at best) because the loser is obvious.
Just because your brief is not looked at super-duper closely does not mean the judge (or, more accurately, his/her law clerk) does not understand your arguments and facts, and then put it down because there is no point in reading more when you know what to tell the judge.
And trust me, I'm right on this one, every clerk does the same thing. All the arguments are the same, especially in small claims court where the facts, NOT THE LAW, are more important.
It's amazing how law school has jaded me, good lord...