What is the significance of the opening discussion between Hathorne, Danforth, Giles Corey, and Francis Nurse?

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The opening discussion of the Third Act helps to bring to light how there is a belief in the pursuit of legal channels to redress the wrong going on in Salem.  Francis Nurse has approached the court in respectful manner, one that believes in the idea of legal redressing of wrongs. The fact that he approaches the court with a petition of signatures also reflects this.  Corey busts into the court demanding to be heard because he "has evidence."  Both believe that the courts are their last sanctuary.  This is the opening of the Third Act in that the individuals are pursuing the legal end in order their own conception of justice.  The significance is how people like Nurse and Corey really believe in the legal system to help them.  Nurse's petition and Corey's deposition are the last ditch attempts to find justice.  As they find out along with Proctor, the court is the sanctuary to injustice, and one by one, they find this revelation out in brutal fashion.  The opening discussion reflects the last shred of hope for those who are innocent, and throughout the scene, it becomes evident that those in the position of power are using the court system to consolidate their own power and deny the pursuit of justice.

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