She’s the no-nonsense lady that made a name for herself as the most popular judge in America. Can you believe the show is now in its 23rd season? We’re talking about Judge Judy of course. But even the woman who has seen and heard everything gets a shock here and there.
In family court, there are always interesting (and strange) disputes. These are, by the far, the craziest. And to be honest, this list might just question your faith in humanity. But you can be the judge… pun intended.
A 21-year-old man named Danny tried to explain his case, saying he has 10 children. Yup, the 21-year-old has 10 kids… When Judge Judy asked how many different women are the mothers, he said, “About four.”
“About!? What does that even mean?” She asked for an explanation and Danny thought for some insane reason that it would be funny to say, “About four … including your daughter.” Not smart, Danny, not smart.
There was a case where this woman said she bought a dog on the street, but the plaintiff said that the dog was actually his. Judge Judy got a little…creative. And she decided to let the dog decide.
When the woman came out holding the dog and set him down, the dog immediately ran to the man (the plaintiff) and started jumping up and down in excitement. Clearly, Judge Judy’s decision was made easy.
This is probably the most viral Judge Judy case. It’s also the shortest one, lasting less than 30 seconds. When the plaintiff claimed that two men stole her wallet, Judy asked for a list of the items that were stolen.
“I had gift cards in there, my earpiece, and a calculator.” But before the woman could even finish, the defendant said, “There was no earpiece in there, ma’am.” Oops! Well, that explains the length of the case.
A dispute between roommates turned into a whole heap of nothing in this bizarre case. A woman moved out of her apartment because she couldn’t get along with the roommate, and so she rented a new apartment that was more expensive.
She then tried to sue the old roommate for the difference in the rent price. Judge Judy was quick to tell this woman that the roommate did nothing illegal. In her words: “That’s not a case … because that’s ridiculous.”
This case wasn’t so bad on its own, but it’s what happened in the audience that things got really awkward. Those people in the audience, by the way, are paid extras. And these extras have a pretty simple job: to gasp, laugh, and so on.
But they’re not supposed to go overboard. One extra took the job a little too seriously and laughed too hard at one of Judge Judy’s little jokes. And she had enough, shouting “Out!” at him. The man’s deer-in-the-headlights look was classic. “Me?” Yes, you!
And yes, that’s Amy Schumer in the audience.
Judge Judy doesn’t get rattled very easily, but she was literally shaken when her TV show/courtroom was interrupted by a 5.4-magnitude earthquake in 2008. The whole place shook, and there was a big commotion in what felt very real and very scary.
But in show biz, the show must go on. Only 45 minutes after, the judge came back to her chair and ordered the court back in session. That’s how she rolls, folks.
When this one woman claimed that another woman stole her “novelty” adult party stuff, Judge Judy needed to get some clarification on what these novelty parties actually were. She said, “We go into homes and hold parties for adults … with lotions, and potions, and vibrators.”
Judge Judy replied with, “OH! That kind of adult party.” But the plaintiff claimed that one of her party kits was missing a large number of items. Those items? A bullwhip, “making love” oil, the “diving dolphin,” and the “eager beaver,” whatever those are.
Four men were accused of shooting up a man’s car, which is a crazy enough case on its own. But what happened when Judge Judy lectured them on gun rights is what made this case hilarious.
Judge Judy dismissed one defendant for talking back; then another one started being sassy, too. He then walked out of the courtroom saying, “Maybe there should be a test to be a judge!” He said it just as he reaches the door, which he can’t seem to open. Someone told him, “Push,” and he left the courtroom with everybody laughing at him.
This is something you don’t see. In an early ‘90s episode, rocker John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, the lead singer of the Sex Pistols, came on the show to dispute against one of his former drummers.
With Lydon’s bleached hair and bug eyes distracting everyone, he actually quite eloquently laid out his case. Which could largely be due to the British accent. He won the case and the relatively measly sum of money.
A woman declared that her neighbor threw “all her Tupperware” at her in a domestic dispute. Which begs the question “How does one throw all the Tupperware?” Well, among many other questions.
Just seeing this lady’s reaction was enough to make you want to rule against her, but that’s not exactly what happened. The Tupperware lady prevailed, and in the end the world of food storage stayed intact.
Who knows what this guy thought when he showed up stoned for his case in front of Judge Judy and on TV no less! He could barely speak in coherent sentences, not to mention he was giggling the whole time.
Judge Judy doesn’t care for these shenanigans, and it didn’t take long for her to decide this man’s fate. He lost the battle as well as $642. That’s $642 less to spend on a certain green plant.
Two siblings wound up in Judge Judy’s court together and were even calm and composed, that is until Judy handed down her sentence. She awarded the brother a settlement.
When his sister began to leave, she went on a tirade, whipping verbal insults at her brother. Something was said about his “tractor,” saying, “I’ll bust you too.” Who knows… But Thanksgiving was probably awkward that year.
A man claimed that his ex-girlfriend broke into his house and stole checks to cash and ultimately bankrupt him. His ex claimed that she didn’t and filed a restraining order against him. When Judy tried to get some answers out of the man, he got irate.
The bailiff was forced to confront him, asking, “Do we need to finish this outside?” After providing no proof that his ex actually stole the checks and displaying erratic behavior, Judy said bye-bye to him and his claims.
Two young women filed charges against a group of men after being in a disagreement that got out of control. In an attempt to explain herself, the defendant said that she was scared of the men.
Judge Judy then asked, “Why were you yelling at five or six men?” The woman gave an answer, but in the process made up her own word to describe them, calling them “loserdses.” But adding a “d” into losers didn’t defend her case.
In a dispute between a landlord and her tenants, a couple, Judge Judy tried to get an understanding by asking some simple questions like, “When did you move into the apartment?” The boyfriend said, “February of … 2012?”
Judy was confused because it sounded like he was asking her. She said, “Are you asking me a question?” This explained that he was guessing, or “assuming.” Judy swiftly kicked him out of the courtroom because he obviously doesn’t know what he’s doing.
When defendant Dr. Noel Howell stated his case, he was very well-spoken. Then again, he is a doctor. But when Howell tried to explain the plaintiff’s drunken behavior, it seemed as though Dr. Howell has never seen a drunk person in his life.
He was probably too focused on his studies to ever get the chance to enjoy some downtime at the bar. How do drunk people act, Dr. Howell? Right, that’s it.
Judge Judy lost her patience quickly when a woman claimed that she was sent two photographs of cell phones after she won a $467 bid on a pair of cell phones on eBay.
But when the judge asked the defendant point-blank if she did send the photographs and not the actual phones, she totally admitted it, pointing out that she was auctioning off the photos. Judy responded with an epic “You’re an idiot!”
When people incriminate themselves, Judy’s work is made easy. In this case, Erica claimed that her friend Lee gave her $2,000. But Lee wanted the money back, saying that it was a loan. But Erica argued that she should be allowed to keep it because her friend is wealthy enough to afford it.
Erica said, “She had the money to give me! She loaned—” and then obviously horrified, she stopped and quickly said, “She didn’t loan.” Before Erica finished her next sentence, Judge Judy ended the case an awarded Lee is $2,000.
Take this as a lesson of why you shouldn’t represent yourself in court. Ashley Hunter was accused of throwing Jen, her friend, into a pool and thus destroying her cell phone. Hunter mistakenly admitted her guilt, saying, “I had no idea she had her iPhone. I felt awful after it happened.”
Hunter responded to Judge Judy’s rhetorical question of “what is rocket science?” by actually trying to explain aerospace engineering. “Rocket science is when the scientists find out things about space,” she explained. That was a rough day for Erica.
Barbara Letendre was the mother of the defendant, and she was standing by her son’s side in court. But she completely lost it when Jacqueline Peckham, who was suing him for harassment, blamed Letendre for calling her “a million times a day.”
“Oh, that’s bull****, I’m outta here,” Letendre shouted before walking out. But she kept on barking from the back of the room. And you know Judy – she doesn’t let anyone disrespect her in her courtroom. She repeatedly yelled, “Out! Out! Out!”
This is a case about a broken toilet. The plaintiff complained, saying the defendant went into the toilet for 20 minutes and after it was broken. Not only is this a ridiculous case to bring to TV court, but it’s also embarrassing!
Judge Judy responded to her with: “My toilet broke last week. You think I went around trying to find the last person who sat on it?” Yeah, exactly.
5 or 6 friends were partying in one of the rooms. And according to the girl whose room it was, she saw her drunk friend lifting her TV and throwing it over the cat. Then cat sadly died on the spot.
During the interrogation, the defendant said he doesn’t remember anything of the sort and also claimed that he didn’t kill the cat. So who killed the cat? Who?
Judge Judy doesn’t like people who don’t take her court seriously. She just kicks them out. There was one guy who just couldn’t get through a sentence with saying “like” a few times. His remarks were like, so hard to, like listen to.
“I created my bank account like 2-3 months back,” and “I deposited like 25 bucks,” and the “Total amount was like 800 dollars.” Judy snapped at him for using the word too much and told him to take “like” out of the dictionary.
There was a case where one defendant borrowed the plaintiff’s laptop. And when Judge Judy asked her, “Did you borrow her computer?” the defendant said “NO.” So what’s the issue here?
Well, the issue is that the defendant isn’t the brightest crayon in the box, so to speak. Apparently, she thought a Laptop wasn’t a computer. Yeah… I think I have no comment for this one.
Judge Judith Sheindlin was 54 when her TV show premiered on September 16, 1996. Two years later, the no-nonsense judge was crushing the powerhouse Oprah Winfrey Show’s ratings.
Today, Judy is one of the highest-paid TV stars, earning $47 million a year! Since we went over some of the craziest cases we’ve seen on the show, let’s take a look at some fun facts about the show and the judge behind it.
The production company has more than 60 researchers across the country who pour over lawsuits filed in local small claims courts. And thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, they can photocopy cases that they think are interesting for TV. About 3% of what they see make it to the next stage.
The next stage involves contacting the litigants involved and asking them if they want to forego their civil court hearing and get a free trip to Los Angeles, an $850 appearance fee, and a per diem of $40 instead. An added incentive for them is that any judgments that are awarded are paid by the show, not by the plaintiff or defendant.
Judge Judy spent over 20 years in New York City’s family court system, earning herself a reputation for being blunt, impatient, and hard-talking. One of her often-repeated “Judyisms” was: “I can’t stand stupid, and I can’t stand slow.”
She would also warn attorneys appearing before her: “I want first-time offenders to think of their appearance in my courtroom as the second-worst experience of their lives … circumcision being the first.”
Judy Sheindlin spends 52 days a year taping the show. She flies to California on a private jet every other Monday to hear cases on Tuesday and Wednesday. One day of shooting fills a week’s worth of shows.
Many viewers think Judy is holding court in New York due to the scenic Manhattan footage in between breaks, and the New York state flag behind her chair, too.
In 1982, New York City Mayor Ed Koch appointed Judith Sheindlin to the bench. To celebrate, she and her husband Jerry took a $399 trip to Greece for two weeks. They passed by a row of street kiosks and impulsively bought a white lace collar from a vendor.
The white lace collar would not only perk up her face, but it would also be disarming for those standing in front of her. She explained how she could picture them thinking, “That nice little lady with the lace collar sitting behind the bench couldn’t hurt a fly!”
Judge Judy doesn’t go to the studio unprepared. Of course not. The producers FedEx the sworn statements and any relevant information to her home (which is in Naples, Florida in the winter; Greenwich, Connecticut the rest of the year).
She has the chance to familiarize herself with enough details to get a background, but not enough so that the case doesn’t look “fresh” when she questions the litigants on shoot.
Regular viewers of Judge Judy will have noticed that will note that the same faces pop up in the audience regularly. Those are paid extras, and sadly aspiring actors, who earn $8 per hour to sit and look attentive.
The extra must dress appropriately (business casual) and arrive on time for the 8:30 a.m. call time. They have to pass through metal detectors and aren’t allowed to bring cell phones or electronic devices with them.
Judy Sheindlin has been seen publicly chastising her litigants who tend to come to her courtroom in skimpy clothing and even “beach attire.” And you would even think that Judy would be wearing a suit under her robe, right?
Well, she isn’t. She actually tends to wear casual clothing under that formal black robe. She’s been known to wear sporting jeans and a tank top or a T-shirt.
Petri Hawkins Byrd is a Brooklyn native and earned his B.Sc. degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1989. He started working in the Brooklyn Family Court system. He started working with Judge Sheindlin when he transferred to the Manhattan Family Court.
“We [the court officers] used to call her the Joan Rivers of the judicial system,” Byrd said in a 2004 interview. “She was just hilarious.” He sent an old colleague a letter saying, “If you need a bailiff, I still look good in uniform.” And like that, he got cast.
Despite his imposing courtroom demeanor, Officer Byrd is actually a very funny guy. He’s a talented impressionist, in fact. But his sense of humor almost cost him his job. Well, he thought so at the time.
When he was working with Judge Sheindlin in New York, he wore her robe and reading glasses to entertain his co-workers with some of his favorite Judyisms. But, of course, he was caught in the act.
Actress Roz Kelly (aka Pinky Tuscadero on ‘Happy Days’) came on the show in 1996 as the plaintiff. She was suing her plastic surgeon for a faulty breast implant that was impeding her acting career.
Then there was Johnny Rotten, was a defendant when drummer Robert Williams, hired to support Lydon on a solo tour, sued Rotten for lost wages and an assault. Lydon ended up winning.
Sheindlin wanted to call her show Hot Bench, a term used in the appellate court, but producers advised her that the term was meaningless to most TV viewers who don’t work in the legal system. Her next suggestion was Judy Justice.
But Sheindlin realized that calling the show Judge Judy was the best choice. That way, she couldn’t be easily replaced. However, she still doesn’t refer to herself by that moniker. When introducing herself, she is either “Judge Sheindlin” or “Judge Judy Sheindlin.”
Murray Blum was a dentist who had his office in the family home. Those were the days before sedation dentistry was even available. So a dentist’s best way to distract nervous patients was with humor.
Murray became a master storyteller. After years of listening to her father, Judy learned how to deliver a punchline. Comedy legend Milton Berle once complimented her in by saying “Kid, you’ve got great comic timing.”
‘Judge Judy’ has lasted longer than any other competing court show, even earning a place in the “Guinness World Records” for being the longest-running such show in the court genre ever.
The show is also the first high-rating court show to win an Emmy. By the year 2011, the show was nominated for a record-making 14 consecutive years. She wasn’t nominated in 2012, but she came back around and earned nominations from 2013 to 2016.
Judy Sheindlin wrote a book in 1993 titled “Don’t Pee On My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining.” And just reading the titles of her other books will probably make you smirk. They include “Beauty Fades, Dumb is Forever” (1999); and “Keep It Simple, Stupid: You’re Smarter Than You Look” (2000).
It keeps going: “Win or Lose by How You Choose” (2000); “You’re Smarter Than You Look: Uncomplicating Relationships” (2001); and “What Would Judy Say? A Grown-Up Guide To Living Together With Benefits” (2013); and “What Would Judy Say: Be The Hero of Your Own Story” (2014).
After Joseph Wapner was released from his role on ‘The People’s Court’ in 1993, Judy approached the producers to suggest herself instead. Believe it or not, she was hung up on by the receptionist.
The show’s opening theme song for the 2004/2005 season is a modern version of a melody from Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. She likes to keep it classy!