People's Court et al

I’ve become quite a fan of People’s Court, Judge Joe Brown, Judge Mathis, Judge Judy and the like. Much like Cops… real people showing what utter idiiots they are and getting slapped down by authorities. Some of the slap-downs are not always warranted though.

My question has to do with why they put up with some of the grief that they get. It is not always deserved. Judge Judy is the best example. She makes assumptions, claims she knows the absolute truth and calls them liars all the time.

Do the participants get paid more if the show airs such that they are warned not to make the judge look stupid.

Could other penalties be involved? I saw Judge Joe Brown tell the bailiff to have the guy arrested and said something about messing with a mediater.

Does anybody have knowledge about the contracts they sign?

I’ve never been on one of the court style shows, but in the contract for Jeopardy you don’t get paid if the show doesn’t air. I suspect the same applies to Judge Judy. Making Judy look stupid is probably the best way to ensure a show doesn’t air.

I never got all the yelling the court shows have. When Judge Wapner was on there, he controlled it without acting like a madman. Maybe because he was a criminal court judge, Judge Judy I think was in family court, and had to deal with far more dangerous people. Yelling wouldn’t get very productive.

The shows themselves are binding arbitration, so I’m sure there are laws and/or regulations that apply. Most of the information revealed about the contracts is that they’re paid for their appearance ($5000) and any amount rewarded is subtracted from that amount.

As for the slapdowns, I wonder why some people even bother to show up on it at times:

eBay Scammer on Judge Judy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJDK6ctRjqw

Yep, both constituants get paid for their appearance, win or lose. Judgements may affect that amount.

Keep in mind that most people are ignorant of their ignorance. You never see someone say, I know I’m wrong - I just don’t want to pay. These people almost always honostly believe that the circumstances justify their actions.

Remember, each litigant submits a written statement to the court in advance of the trial. As some of these litigants are not too smart, the written statements often conflict with their testimony…it is not uncommon in an unpaid loan case for the defendant to admit to receiving the money but to claim it was a gift. When that same person gets up before the judge and starts claiming that they never recieved a dime, the judge will often harshly call them a liar.

These statements are also the reason that some of the judges, Judy especially, will reflect a noticable bias at the start of the case before any testimony has been heard.

I don’t remember if it was Uncle Cecil, or Snopes that said so, but Judge Judy, in real life, was officially reprimanded for belittling litigants. The point being that our judicial system is supposed to be impartial at the start, and she wasn’t. Some might agree with Judge Judy, that frivolous lawsuits deserve ridicule, but that’s not what our judicial system is supposed to be about …

I remember my high school teacher saying that the disclaimer at the end of Wapner’s court said it all – this is not meant to be real (that is in direct opposition to the spoken preamble, I know) and the Judge Wapner’s decisions were really totally up to him and the producers. Kinda hard to get some people to accept that 'tho. He just seems so real, to some people.

But I kinda lost interest rapidly. Once I had an inkling that it wasn’t absolutely real, it looked as contrived as any other afternoon soap opera.

[moderating]
Since this is about TV shows, I’ve moved it from GQ to CS.
[/moderating]

The format makes it almost necessary for Judge Judy to call someone a liar. In 90% of the cases she hears, you have two people giving absolutely contradictory testimony. In other words, in almost all of the cases she hears, there is at least one stone liar. She has to make a quick judgment based on her experience as a judge, and as a human. If the case basically comes down to which one she feels is likelier to be the liar, it’s only fair that she state what her conclusions are. Now granted, she tends to express this somewhat emotionally–“YOU sir, are a LOSER!” But absent that, why would anyone watch the show?

And, by the way, it must be a personal judgment; a character judgment. Because it’s rare that someone has documentary proof one way or the other. She bases her judgments on what seems logical (though sometimes there’s a generational ignorance which leads to a bad conclusion), and other intangible clues. It’s not appearance or race; I’ve seen her compliment a defendant for wearing a suit and tie, and then treat him like a worm once it was clear that he was lying. And I’ve seen her be very sympathetic to very stereotypical non-white people. She’s just as likely to berate a woman as a man, an older person as a younger, etc. If she has a prejudice at all, it seems to be based on her judgment of you as honest or dishonest. Which, of course, is open to mistakes.

Just remember that it’s entertainment, not jurisprudence. Criticizing or rebuking the litigants makes for better TV, but it isn’t (and shouldn’t be) reflective of reality in the typical courtroom. I often handle small claims cases as a magistrate, and strive to treat everyone with respect. I insist that the parties be courteous with one another, and disagree without being disagreeable. But most people wouldn’t want to watch me at work for half an hour a day.

The people Judge Judy rips a new one almost always deserve it anyway, so I don’t really mind if it’s not 100% proper judge ettiquite or if she’s decided to not bother with some minor detail they try to bring up or something.

All of the cases are small claims, and they are typical of what I have seen of Small Claims Court. Evidence rules, and without it the judge usually has to look at what likely happened based on the facts and human nature in the face of probability.

Yeah, but what happens when the Flame of the West gets drawn and used!!! :eek::eek::eek::stuck_out_tongue:

The other thing to remember, at least in the case of Judge Judy, is that the actual aired content is edited for time. There are large portions of discussion/testamony that never make the air. Many times when Judy seems to be jumping all over someone it’s becasue of shit that went down during un-air portions.

If you’re not a thrall of Mordor, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

I still don’t understand why some of them don’t get more heated with her though.

Maybe they do and it doesn’t air… but it seems like it would be good entertainment and some of it would be… as long as JJ ended up the clear winner in the battle of words.

That’s Joe Brown territory.

I don’t know, of course, but I suspect that some people take her to task, drag her through the mud, and that footage never airs. I think it’s very important for the success of that show that she never appears to be wrong. (Though I’ve seen her make some seriously wonky decisions.)

I am reminded of one case in which the defendant was such a moron that the entertainment value of the shwo shot through the roof.

The plaintiff was a middle aged woman who appeared with her 16 year old daughter. The daughter had gone to a tattoo parlor and got a tattoo. Since the parlor didn’t check her ID (you have to be 18 to get a tattoo), the plaintiff was suing them for the cost of getting the tattoo removed.

The defense? “We have a sign that says ‘No one under the age of 18 allowed beyond this point.’ Since she was past the sign, she must have been 18.”

That’s where I stand, too (except I spell “etiquette” better :slight_smile: ). I’m not looking for a dead-perfect representation of small claims court - I’m watching to see stupid people get called on their stupidity.

It wasn’t an “official” reprimand, nor was it for belittling litigants, but it was for one of her insensitive remarks. She had commented on Austrailia’s drug policy by suggesting that they should give all addicts dirty needles and let them die. An Austrailian high court judge took offense to her comment and suggested that someone in her position should have more compassion.

I did hear her tell a depressed litigant once that she should just stop taking her medications. That was a really stupid thing to say. But most of the time I find her interesting.