Judge Judy has been almost a cornerstone of television in the past few decades.
The court show revolves around the titular judge, Judy Sheindlin, and the case at hand.
With her powerful personality and little patience for arrogance or deceit, Judge Judy became TV royalty very quickly.
However, despite seeming to play the role of a judge and having the title you may be unsure if she’s a real judge or not.
Here’s what you need to know about Judge Judy.
Is Judge Judy A Real Judge?
Yes, Judge Judy was a real judge, but she retired shortly before launching her TV show.
On TV, she plays an arbiter rather than a judge.
That said, the rulings she gives are legally binding.
She handles cases that would typically go to small claims courts.
These are lawsuits with low claim amounts that usually don’t go any higher than $5,000.
Producers on the show approach people who have a case that they think could be interesting.
They’ll give those individuals a choice.
They can continue to try and resolve their case in court, or they can appear on Judge Judy.
If they choose to appear on Judge Judy, not only do they get a bit of television fame, but they also have a chance of winning the suit and some money.
That’s because the producers award different fees based on who wins the case.
If the plaintiff wins, then they get a judgment award.
If the defendant wins, then both they and the plaintiff get appearance fees.
Essentially, the defendants can get their cases heard and tried without having to pay legal fees.
This can be quite the incentive.
It also pushes them hard to win the case since they can earn a bit more money by winning.
However, both parties have to follow the ruling that Judge Judy gives since it is legally binding.
Because of this, while Judge Judy may not be an official judge, she is a legal arbiter.
When Did Judge Judy Become A Lawyer?
Judy Blum was born on October 21st, 1942.
She lived in Brooklyn, New York until she left to study at American University in Washington D.C.
She had an interest in the law and wanted to become a lawyer.
She graduated in 1963 and then continued her education at American University’s Washington College of Law.
At that point, she found herself the only woman in a class of 126 people.
Despite this, she continued to study for her law degree and ended up receiving it at the New York Law School in New York City.
She had married her first husband by then, and the couple lived in New York City at the time.
In 1965, she passed the bar exam and became a lawyer.
Her first real job was as a corporate lawyer for a cosmetics company.
She spent two years with the company but disliked it.
Instead, she focused her attention on raising her two children, Jamie and Adam.
In 1972, a friend of hers suggested she apply for a new opening in the New York courts.
The position was for a prosecutor in the family court system.
She got the job and found it to her liking.
Her focus during those years was on juvenile crime, child abuse, and domestic violence.
Despite her love for the job, it was emotionally draining and took its toll at home.
She wasn’t able to spend as much time with her children and husband.
As a result, she and her husband, Ronald Levy, divorced after 12 years of marriage.
As luck would have it, she ended up meeting Jerry Sheindlin three months after her divorce.
They married in 1978.
Throughout this time, Judy continued to serve as a prosecutor for the family courts in New York.
When Did Judge Judy Become A Judge?
As a lawyer, Judy had made a name for herself.
She had a reputation for having zero patience for deceitful players in the courtroom or those who wasted time.
Word of her eventually reached then-Mayor Ed Koch who appreciated her reputation and antics in court.
He decided to appoint her to a seat in family court.
Judy Sheindlin officially became Judge Judy in 1982.
As a judge, she often showed sympathy for the underdog.
Meanwhile, she had withering contempt for any display of arrogance.
She served as a judge for four years before she rose to the role of supervising judge in the Manhattan division of the family court.
However, she only enjoyed the role in its entirety for a few years.
In 1990, her father passed away and it devastated her.
It strained her relationship with her husband and the two decided to divorce.
However, they only remained divorced for a year.
Judy and Jerry remarried a year later.
Refocused, she returned to court and continued to give it her all.
It was in 1993 that the next phase of Judy’s life started to form.
The Los Angeles Times featured a profile on her and described her as a hard-hitting superheroine in the courtroom.
She stood for the common good.
This caught the interest of 60 Minutes on CBS which decided to interview her.
They did a profile on her and viewers were able to meet Judge Judy for the first time.
Realizing that she had some star power, an agent who represented Judy got into contact with Larry Lyttle.
Lyttle was the president of Big Ticket Television.
He came to Lyttle and pitched the idea of a courtroom TV show.
Lyttle agreed to the idea, and they started working on a pilot.
When Did Judge Judy Start Her Show?
Judy spent 25 years practicing in the family court.
During her time as a judge, she heard over 20,000 cases.
However, when the opportunity arose to start a show, she decided it was time to start something new.
She officially retired as a judge in 1996 and became an arbiter instead.
As an arbiter, she was able to work in Los Angeles and make legally binding rulings that those who appeared in her court had to abide by.
The first episode of Judge Judy aired in September 1996.
Viewers were immediately drawn to Judy’s personality and the court cases themselves.
In only three years, she won first place for syndicated shows.
In some areas of the country, more people were tuning in to watch her than Oprah.
The show continued to pull in viewers consistently with an average daily viewership of 10 million people.
The success of her show inspired other similar shows like Judge Joe Brown, Judge Hatchett, and Judge Mathis.
However, even great shows have to eventually come to an end.
In March 2020, while appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Judy revealed that the show was finally going to end after its 25th season.
She also stated that a new show would air in its place.
For 25 years, Judge Judy weighed justice and brought her own version of justice and fairness to audiences across the world.
What Is Judge Judy’s New Show?
Judge Judy started her new show in November 2021.
She left standard cable networks behind and entered the streaming world.
Her new show, Judy Justice, is on IMDb TV.
There are a few differences between this new show and her old one.
For one, she isn’t wearing the traditional black robe anymore.
Instead, she’s sporting a maroon robe.
She’s also not on her own anymore.
Although Judge Judy always had a bailiff at her side, this time, she has a few more people joining her on the bench.
On one side of her is Law Clerk, Sarah Rose.
Rose is also Judy’s granddaughter, who followed in Judy’s steps to get a law degree.
She’s also joined by Whitney Kumar, a court reporter.
The show also features a new bailiff, Kevin Rasco.
The supporting cast doesn’t do much in the show, but they’re great for reactions to Judy’s whip-smart humor.
Another major change to Judy Justice is the amount of money that those appearing in court can earn.
On her old show, they could only earn up to $5,000, but o
n Judy Justice, they’re able to earn up to $10,000.
This means the stakes are even higher for the defendants and plaintiffs to make their cases.
That said, the rest of the show is quite similar to the original Judge Judy.
She still plays an arbiter and each case has a winner and loser.
This means that fans of the Judge Judy show will likely feel right at home despite the minimal changes.
Some fans may worry that they can’t watch the show due to its streaming on IMDb TV.
That isn’t the case, however.
IMDb TV is a part of Amazon’s streaming service.
However, you don’t need Amazon Prime to watch it.
It’s a free streaming service with ads.
You can watch it on most devices as well as on Roku and Amazon Fire.
Are The Cases On Judge Judy Real?
Yes, the cases on Judge Judy and Judy Justice are real.
At the beginning of every episode of Judge Judy, there’s a quick intro that states, “The people are real.
The cases are real.
The rulings are final.
This is Judge Judy.”
They’re telling the truth.
The producers of the show look at cases currently going through small claims courts across the United States.
When they find one that they think could make an interesting TV episode, they approach the individuals involved.
They ask them if they’d like to televise their court proceedings instead for a chance to win some money.
All legal fees are also covered by them.
The show also covers their travel and hotel costs.
For lots of people, this is quite the deal since lawyers are rarely involved in small claims cases.
As such, the individuals involved usually have to cover any court costs themselves.
By going on Judge Judy or Judy Justice, they avoid those fees and even potentially earn some money.
However, they have to agree to a few things.
The first is that they agree to have their court proceedings televised.
The second and most important part is that they have to accept a contract that states that Judge Judy’s rulings are legal and binding.
They have to do what she rules to comply with the law.
As long as they agree to those terms, then they’re able to get on the show and make their case before Judge Judy.
As such, the cases on Judge Judy and Judy Justice are real.
Are The People Real On Judge Judy?
Some of the people on Judge Judy are real.
The individuals making their cases to Judge Judy are real people.
They’re the actual defendants and plaintiffs of the cases.
No matter where they live in the country, the show flies them out to Los Angeles, California for the filming of the episode.
However, they’re the only two real people.
The people in the audience are all paid actors.
If you wanted to attend the show, then you’d have to audition.
There are a few reasons the show decided to use actors instead of real people.
The main reason is that they needed people who could act stoic or express other emotions during certain parts of the show.
This helps drive up the tension, drama, or even humor.
That’s easier to do when everyone is a trained actor rather than just a normal person.
It also means there are fewer distractions.
With real people, you always have a risk of people playing on their phones, needing to get up to use the bathroom, or having some other issue that stops the drama.
That doesn’t work well for a show like Judge Judy.
Paid actors are all professionals and know how to handle themselves on the show.
It creates a non-distracting background which allows the main attention to be on Judge Judy and the defendant and plaintiff.
Judy Justice follows the same formula.
The defendants and plaintiffs are real people while the people in the audience are actors.
Is Judge Judy Scripted?
Because Judge Judy is a reality TV show, you may wonder if it’s scripted.
Many reality TV shows claim to show authentic scenes of real life, but in fact, they’re actually scripted.
That isn’t the case on the show, Judge Judy.
The defendants and plaintiffs aren’t sure of what to expect from Judge Judy.
She isn’t sure what arguments they’re going to make for their cases either.
One side may have prepared a lot for the case while the other hasn’t.
Maybe both sides have come prepared.
Since they’re real people, there are always new personalities adding to the drama, too.
Because of this, it’s impossible to say what’s going to happen on the show or what Judge Judy is going to do.
The result of the case usually relies on how well one defended or argued for their case.
The path to that point isn’t scripted.
Judy Justice follows the same format as the old show.
As such, her new show isn’t scripted either.
If there’s any scripting that’s occurring, then it might come from her supporting cast.
As for the actual cases and the drama that ensues, however, that’s entirely real and unscripted.
Who Pays The Settlements On Judge Judy?
As an arbiter, Judge Judy can decide on how to reward or punish the individuals involved.
In most cases, there’s always money involved.
However, it doesn’t always have to be money.
For example, Judge Judy might order that the two never have contact again.
She might institute a restraining order.
When the settlement or ruling does include money, however, you may wonder where the show gets it from.
Taxpayers don’t have to worry that their money is somehow funding the show.
Producers pay the winner of the case through a fund that’s set aside specifically for that purpose.
The fund gets its money through the various ways that the show gets its funds.
That usually means ads, investments, and any budget that they get from the studio.
Since those on Judge Judy could only earn up to $5,000, that’s easy enough money to set aside from their ad revenue.
Judy Justice also relies on its earnings from ads to pay its settlements.
Judge Judy was a real judge who practiced for 25 years.
Before then, she also worked as a lawyer.
Although she’s played the role of Judge Judy for a long time, she’s since moved on to create a new show called Judy Justice on IMDb TV.