Court TV Shows
Small Claims Court
Courts for settling legal disputes involving relatively small amounts of money (less than $1,000-$3,000). Meant to emphasize informality and timely resolution of disputes.
Find parties with pending small claims court cases willing to appear in arbitration on court TV shows instead
What actually happens on court TV shows. One of several kinds of alternative dispute resolution in which an impartial third party is consulted with both parties agreeing in advance to comply with the stated award.
“Judges” of TV Court shows rule by contract
“The Arbiter’s Decision and her interpretation and application of laws and principles she uses in arriving at the Decision, shall be final and binding upon the parties hereto.”–Old Contract of Judge Judy
Plaintiff: the person who initiates a court action.
If they win the show’s producers award them a judgment fee
Defendant: the party against which action is brought.
If they win both parties receive an appearance fee
It’s a good deal for the defendant as they’re absolved of financial obligations with a weak case
And may even get an appearance fee for a strong case
Scope of the decision:
Decisions may only be successfully appealed if the appeal addresses a matter outside the scope of the contract.
More than that, they’re led with a certain legal flair
Judge Joseph A. Wapner, The People’s Court 1981-1993
12 seasons // 2,484 episodes
Los Angeles Municipal Court, 1959-1961
Los Angeles County Superior Court, 1961-1979
The birth of the genre, and the second longest spanning TV judge. No nonsense, Wapner was before the advent of one-liners that characterize many court TV shows today.
Judge Judith Sheindlin, Judge Judy 1996-Present
19 seasons // 5300+ episodes
Manhattan Family Court
Known as “justice with an attitude” Judge Judy was the advent of one-liners in court TV shows. Currently she’s the highest paid television star, making $47 million per season some 19 seasons in. She’s known for her ability to quickly find facts and keep the court orderly and has been nominated for 15 consecutive Daytime Emmy Awards (winning one).
Judge Marilyn Milian, The People’s Court 2001-present
14 seasons // 1000’s of episodes
Florida State Circuit Court Judge
The first latin judge to preside over a court TV show, also this show’s youngest. Judge Milian has improved ratings significantly from her predecessor, and has been nominated for several Daytime Emmy Awards as well as an Academy award under the new courtroom/Legal Show category.
Judge Joe Brown, Judge Joe Brown 1998-2013
State Criminal Court of Shelby County, TN
Presided over James Earl Ray’s last appeal of Ray’s conviction for the assassination of MLK Jr
First black TV court show judge. Known for perfunctory nature when figuring out all the facts, and tirading and moralistic when he suspects someone is guilty. His guidance, particularly to guilty men is to “grow up,” “you don’t know nothing about manhood,” “quit acting like a thug,” and “take some responsibility.”
Lauren Lake, Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court 2013-present
1 season // 54 episodes
Legal analyst Lauren Lake rules on paternity cases and renders DNA test results. Her non-traditional court TV program has a holistic view of the outcome of cases, with guests provided with resources in or near their hometowns, a psychiatrist on site, and follow-ups with guests.
Patricia DiMango, Tanya Acker, and Larry Bakman, Hot Bench, 2014-present
Brooklyn, New York Supreme Court (DiMango)
Produced by Judge Judith Sheindlin. The idea for the show was inspired on a visit to Ireland where Sheindlin witnessed court cases settled by three judges. The series presides features three judges who preside over small court claims, and then argue the merits of the case amongst themselves in their chambers before rendering a verdict.