A fragmented nation has at last found a unifying figure. Our new Chief Judge, Judith Sheindlin. No, not our Chief Justice. That is someone else. He is hardly unifying anything and, besides, not many people know who he is. And I am not talking about that other Sheindlin, who main claim to fame is something called a Zubalake, which might be a dance or something you order in a Bulgarian restaurant, I don’t know. I am talking about someone with real power. As she says in her own words: “Half of prime time would be thrilled to get our numbers.” While other television judges are fading fast, Judge Judy’s ratings are only increasing. Why? According to the Judge and the New York Times:
“People take comfort in order,” she said. “I also move swiftly, as opposed to a justice system and a government that is slow and meandering.” In other words, “Judge Judy,” which features real small-claims cases, offers people a fantasy — a legal system as they would like it to be.
Swift justice, delivered with a kick-ass attitude. An important insight that offers tips for financing the other justice system, the one that increasingly also seems like a fantasy. Judges should be chosen not alone for their legal acumen, but also for their ability to deliver zingers with the dexterity of stand-up comedians, while imposing that all-important order on society. The Courts can charge a nominal admissions charge and sell the television rights.
Televised justice has a long history. Many of us old timers can remember the excitement of the original Divorce Court, presided over by Voltaire Perkins in 1957 and still going strong (although no threat to Her Honor.) The original Court TV was an innovation that ultimately brought us the OJ Network. But it was the People’s Court that really paved the way for our new Chief Judge, because it was for the People, like the extremely successful People’s Court of the former Soviet Union.
Because it is, after all, about that longing for order. And ratings.
In the interest of full disclosure, as well as ruthlessly exploiting a minor connection to a celebrity, I should reveal that I actually met Judge Scheindlin when she was a real, not a fantasy judge. It was after her “60 Minutes” profile appeared in 1993. I went with my first wife, a television producer, to pitch an idea for a television series starring her. We watched the morning session in her court and then met with her in chambers. A few months later, we learned that “Judge Judy” had been born. Oh, what might have been!
One thought on ““Who Doesn’t Love Judge Judy?””
LOL! You have to be joking. The only thing ‘likeable’ about this caustic demeaning sound-bite bully and latter-day version of a “Punch and Judy” Show is her $123,000 daily earnings on a $45M annual salary. Quite a well-paid schtick.
More lamentable is that she has doubtless inspired real life jurists to equally unbecoming conduct from the now turned-out real life “Judge Judy” Eiler in King County, WA http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2011494,00.html to Judge DeAnn Salcido in San Diego http://www.metnews.com/articles/2010/judg111210.htm and to the very recent Breward Brawling Hon. John Murphy in Florida. http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/brevard-judge-accused-punching-public-defender/ngCGC/
As though ‘black robe disease’ wasn’t endemic enough among the media-celebrated “no nonsense” ‘tough-talkers’ on the bench who too often overlook Model Code of Judicial Conduct: Canon 2 and specifically, sub paragraphs (A) and (B) of:
“Rule 2.8: Decorum, Demeanor, and Communication with Jurors
“(A) A judge shall require order and decorum in proceedings before the court.
“(B) A judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, court staff, court officials, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers, court staff, court officials, and others subject to the judge’s direction and control.”
Quoting historian Barbara Tuchman, “A greater inducement to folly is an excess of power.”