People's Court Judge Milian is Dead Wrong.

If you don’t already know it, Judge Judy’s husband (Judge Jerry) has been replaced on the television show “The People’s Court” by a young vibrant Latino Judge Milian. She hails from Florida with just as much fire as Judge Judy.

However I recently viewed an episode in which I think she was completely wrong. It was her second aired episode and it featured a woman who was a passenger in a friend’s car. She was suing her friend because they were involved in an auto accident in which the friend was not at fault.

Judge Milian proceeded to lambaste the woman for suing her good friend, and directed that she sue the person at fault.

Here is where the good Judge was wrong: There are such things as “no fault” states. In these states the driver of the car pays for his passenger’s injuries regardless of fault. This accident occurred in New York where I believe no fault insurance is the law.

She had no alternative but to sue her friend for her injuries. That is the way no fault works. She can’t sue the person at fault, because of New York’s no fault law. So now she is SOL.

Being from Miami Florida, Judge Milian is probably unaware of the laws of other states. Still you would think that “The People’s Court” would do some research for her before she makes a judgement (or indeed before she tries a case).

The real kicker is that even if the Judge was dead wrong and misapplied the law, it is unlikely that the passenger can sue People’s Court. Basically the show is binding arbitration and both parties agree to abide by the Judge’s decision, even if said Judge’s decision is wrong (in accordance with the law).

Even though I am a fan of various court programs, I think one would have to be exceptionally stupid to trust a television judge for a fair and impartial hearing. Better to trust a judge who knows the laws in your state.

I saw the same ep and unfortunately cannot remember whether the litigants were in fact residents of New York. While the majority who appear on “The People’s Court” are New Yorkers, this week’s episodes have included litigants from Connecticut and the Judge’s home state of Florida.

If the litigants are from NY, then I agree that the judge probably was wrong in stating that the plaintiff should have sued the person at fault in the accident. This appears to be something of a moot point, however, as the plaintiff’s case was pretty weak to begin with. She attempted to sue, apparently, for pain and suffering rather than any specific injury, and reimbursement for such non-economic loss appears to be specifically excluded by no-fault legislation, as explained here:

In any event, the judge apparently gave weight to the facts that the plaintiff did not have much in the way of documentation of her injuries, and that she admitted her first impulse was to call her lawyer rather than seek medical attention. Thus I doubt that the plaintiff would have done any better if she had been able to sue the other party.

Excuse me for reducing this to trivialities, but I’ve gotta agree that Judge Milian is a real firecracker, and a hell of a lot easier on the eyes and ears than either of the Scheindlins. I also like the fact that (in contrast to rhymes-with-witch Judy), she shows compassion for some of the litigants. I’m definitely gonna keep watchin’.

So far, all I’ve found on the 'Net is that since 1998, Judge Milian was a judge for the 11th Circuit Court, Criminal Division, in Dade County, FL. I am unaware of any additional experience she may have. The web site for the People’s Court has been reduced to an E-mail contact page, presumably while they revamp the site for the new format, so there is no bio info there.

It doesn’t matter as far as the state of residency of the plaintiff or defendant; it only matters where the accident occurred. From the description on the program it occurred in a bridge in New York State.

As far as documentation, I don’t remember the plaintiff even being asked to document her injuries. All I got to see was a “firecracker” of a judge explode on this woman for suing her best friend when someone else was at fault.

In regards to the plaintiff calling her lawyer before medical care. I don’t think that was the wisest action on her part. Which is odd when you consider if she retained a lawyer, the lawyer would have helped write the preliminary paperwork and the lawyer would have stated relevant New York law pertaining to no fault.

After watching The People’s Court last night, I am willing to bet that the producers did not tell the participants of the change in Judges. A limo driver made a disparaging remark about “Hispanic temper” in a written report submitted to Judge Milian. I am willing to bet money that he thought Judge Jerry was going to hear his case. Judge Milian even remarked that the limo driver “didn’t know he was getting a Hispanic Judge”.

IMHO, I like Judge Milian’s moxie. However I firmly believe that Judge Jerry was a much better Judge. Judge Milian seems to “go with her guts” (and she’s got plenty of that). Judge Jerry backed up his judgements better with elements of law.

For what it’s worth, Judge Whopner (the original People’s Court Judge) did the best job of all in explaining to viewers the elements of the law that are involved in a particular. When he ruled he taught. However if people want to be taught, they watch PBS. They watch court programs for drama.

I found the following site very interesting regarding the inter-workings of The People’s Court:

//Slight Hijack//
This is just a show right? Can the people get held in comtempt of court for swearing at these “Judges”? What about perjury?

Technically the “Judge” in a court program is a misnomer. Technically he/she is an “Arbitrator”, but such a term us unappealing for a courtroom show.

In watching all of these programs, I have yet to see Judge Judy or any TV judge order that someone be jailed for contempt. Further I have not seen any TV judge fine a participant for contempt.

Basically if you are in contempt of court the Judge will ask the Bailiff (technically a security guard) to remove the participant. Chances are more than likely that the Judge will rule against you.

In the above website, the contracts presented mention nothing of contempt. Apparently you are not in violation of the contract if you call the Judge names and leave the courtroom.

On the subject of perjury, it is rarely prosecuted in the real world. Do you think a real small claims court Judge would bother pursuing someone for lying under oath? How do you separate a lie from a point of view? If a TV Judge catches you in a lie, depending on the severity of the lie, chances are you will lose your case.