Monday, January 28, 2013

"But That's Not What Judge Judy Does!"

After lecturing on some civil procedure matters a student raised her hand and somewhat defiantly asserted the statement that comprises the title of this post. I laughed good-naturedly and then recognized the confusion evident from her expression. "Oh, my God," I thought, "she thinks the Judge Judy show is a broadcast of an actual courtroom!" How many other students believe that Judge Judy or The People's Court or Judge Joe Brown, etc. etc. are actual court proceedings instead of TV shows?

Judge Judy's opening segment says "The people are real! The cases are real! The rulings are final!"
This much is true.  But not because it is a court ruling.  The rulings are final because the litigants have dismissed their small claims cases in favor of an agreement to be bound by the outcome in the TV forum.  As explained at the People's Court website: 

"The People's Court," produced by Ralph Edwards/Stu Billett Productions (the producers of the original series which ran for 12 years), draws on ordinary people who have filed grievances in civil court and have opted to have their cases heard and mediated by Judge Milian. An experienced team of researchers continually canvass courts across the country in search of the most compelling, unique and thought-provoking cases. Running the gamut from disputes between neighbors and family members, to dissatisfied customers suing businesses, Milian's decisions – based on current law – are final and binding.

Below is a video of the closing remarks form an early edition of The People's Court.  Following Doug Llewelyn's famous "You take 'em to court" phrase, is an explanation of the payment arrangements for participants.

Judge Judy closing credits.  At :31 is the written explanation, "Monetary awards are paid from a fund maintained by the producer."

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