Real cases. Real people. Judge Judy.Thus begins the most popular judge show in recent history. Judge Judy can be summed up in one sentence: "What if the Mediator persona was a real person?"Judge Judy focuses on the courtroom of Judge Judith Sheindlin, an experienced family-court judge who brings her extreme pithiness to everyday cases involving some of the worst human garbage this side of Jerry Springer. One can only watch and wonder, "where did they find these people?" The standard episode sees Judy evaluating the testimony of both litigants, interspersed with her own biting comments as needed, determining which has the better case and why, and then issuing a ruling. After the case, the litigants have a chance to speak to the camera and comment on how justice was, or was not, served.Note that Ms. Sheindlin is not actually acting as a judge and the show is filmed on a set, not in a courtroom. The guy in front of her is a former New York City Court Bailiff, not a police officer, and the "public gallery" is filled by paid extras. She is actually acting as an arbiter (a third party whose decision both parties in the dispute agree to abide by). Both "litigants" will be paid; Judy is determining the balance of the two.Spawned a whole bunch of judge shows; however, it was not the originator of the judge show, as Raymond Babbitwould tell you.
Berserk Button: Don't answer her questions with "Mmmhmmm" or some variant instead of "Yes" or "No." Also, interrupting her is one, as shown by her Catch Phrases below. And Obfuscating Stupidity is another, as exemplified by these two lines:
"Either you're playing dumb or it's not an act."
"Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining."
Blatant Lies: Lots of people try to pull this, but as a "truth machine," Judy is having none of it.
California Doubling: The entire show has New York touches around it, such as scenic footage of New York, the New York state seal and flag on the set, and goes more by the New York law books for their arbitration. However, the show tapes at Sunset-Gower Studios in Los Angeles, and Judy flies in from the East Coast to tape a cluster of shows at a time several times a season
Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : In one case involving a 20 year old who got caught the first time he used a fake ID, Judge Judy lampshades this by calling him "the unluckiest person on Earth."
"If you interrupt again, your case is dismissed, and I'm throwing you out. Do you understand?"
"(You look like a fool, etc.) in front of ten million people."
"Don't (or "You can't") tell me what he/she/they said." (i.e. It's hearsay.)
I don't care what you think" (When someone says, "I don't think I owe him/her anything").
"So what?"/"Who cares?"
Courtroom Antics: The Judge herself will often disrupt the proceedings to offer candid and irrelevant opinions about her clients or society in general. She's not above asking litigants non-rhetorical questions and then shouting them down when they try to answer.
Creepy Monotone: With emphasis on creepy. One case where the plaintiff's husband sat quietly with a blank, expressionless stare, until he interrupted the defendant in the middle in the episode with "You lied about it" with a tone so creepy that everything felt silent as he said it.
Disproportionate Retribution: Some of the cases that come to Judy's court are a result of this. One example includes a woman who thought her husband was cheating on her, so her response was to pour bleach all over his jeans (as opposed to, for example, confronting him about it).
Also, Judy is vocal on stating that the show is all about being a living example of her belief that those who do wrong should suffer consequences. But those in the wrong suffer no consequenceson this show. In fact, they gain from their bad behaviour. All participants get an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles. All participants get a minimum attendance fee of $1,000. And any monetary judgements made against a participant are paid by the show. The only cost they receive is their dignity; millions of television viewers worldwide will get to see how inhuman they really are.
Some would argue that is sufficient punishment. Being plastered all over the media and having the nation know who you are can make your life hell...if you're good, like Oliver Sipple who saved Gerald Ford's life and got ruined by the publicity. If you're bad, like that one defendant who committed identity theft on her own sister and insisted she did nothing wrong, everyone you know and care about could turn on you after learning what you did. Try having a positive personal life after that.
The personification of the above point would be Kelli Filkins, the defendant known as the "eBay scammer." Appearing on the Judge Judy show was the worst thing she ever did; the negative publicity resulting from her amoral behavior ruined her.
Jerkass Has a Point: The whole point of the show, with Judge Judy herself as the "jerkass" of this trope. She's harsh, argumentative, and rude. She frequently insults the intelligence of plaintiffs and defendants alike. She is in a position of authority and has no problem with reminding people of this. But, given the types of people she has to deal with on her show (people who can't follow simple instructions like bringing necessary legal documents after being told to bring them in advance, defendants who tell obvious lies and somehow expect an educated judge not to see through them, plaintiffs who sue people when the defendants have better reason to sue them, etc.), she's actually justified in her behavior because, unlike your average everyday rational person who can be reasoned with by logic and civility, the people who appear on her show are so perpetually clueless that nothing but Jerkass behavior will wake them up to reality.
Kubrick Stare/Death Glare: Judy, mainly directed at litigants who are demonstrating unusual dishonesty, stupidity, or are otherwise trying her patience.
Laxative Prank: One defendant pulls a variation of this, giving a brownie laced with marijuana instead of a laxative to the plaintiff. Judge Judy is not amused, pointing out that this is actually assault.
One case where she was proven wrong was where she accused a woman of lying when the woman claimed that she walked over a large distance to and from work every day. When her opponent actually spoke up in her defense when the judge didn't believe her, confirming that yes, she in fact did walk that distance every day, Judy admitted her mistake and apologized. The above is a very rare occasion though. Generally speaking, Judy will get more and more irritated if she asks questions she thinks will embarrass defendants and make them look like feckless bums and then gets answers that don't suit her and prove otherwise. She's then most likely to simply change the subject.
Never Lend to a Friend: A LOT of the cases involve the plaintiff suing a former friend for an unpaid loan. The defendant's usual defense will be "it was a gift, not a loan," such as in this case. Judge Judy almost always rules in favor of the plaintiff, as well as giving them the advice: "Never lend money to anybody. As soon as you lend money, you become the bad guy."
Opening Narration/Emphasize Everything: "You are about to enter the courtroom of Judge Judith Sheindlin! The people are real. The cases are real. The rulings are final! (This is her courtroom!) This is Judge Judy!"
Reasonable Authority Figure: She may be harsh, but Judy’s job is a judge and she doesn’t take anyone’s side. She’s only to help who’s in the right or wrong, meaning regardless on who’s the plaintiff or the defendant. It’s HER JOB to be impartial, and while she does make a final decision, she has to hear both sides of the case before doing so.
Shown Their Work: Judge Judy is a legitimate legal authority. Even if the litigants are clearly getting on her last nerve, she will try to explain which legal areas are in play and why the plaintiff/defendant does or does not have a case.
I've raised several teenagers, so I know that the first thing that teenagers do when they open their mouths is lie.
Averted when she discovers that teens are genuine victims. In one case she tells the teenage son of a defendant in a claim he had nothing to do with in a heartfelt voice to get away from his father and sister any way he can, believing he was too good a person to be corrupted with their influence.
The Unfair Sex: Averted. Judge Judy is impartial when it comes to genders.
Ungrateful Bastard: Some of the plaintiffs and/or defendants fit this description. One example: a teenager's mother whose daughter got a urinary tract infection and a plaintiff, a guest in their home, ended up taking her daughter to the hospital to have the infection treated. Then when the plaintiff was stuck with the medical bill, the teenager's mother refused to help pay the bill, showing a lack of gratitude to the plaintiff who got her daughter out of a jam when the teenager's mother didn't do it herself.
Your Mom: Inverted by one lovable piece of work who claimed to have ten children by "about four" women and "your daughter." Judy wasn't amused.