Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Judge Judy



Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Judge Judy

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
She's been on TV for decades, but these are things you didn't know about Judge Judy. We'll be looking at ten things you may not have known about Judge Judy, as well as her show, with an emphasis on her personal life. We're here to tell you the truth about this TV judge. MsMojo ranks the things you didn't know about Judge Judy. Are there any fun facts about Judge Judy we missed? Let us know in the comments!
We’re here to tell you the truth about this TV judge. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Judge Judy.

For this list, we’ll be looking at ten things you may not have known about Judge Judy, as well as her show, with an emphasis on her personal life.

#10: She’s an Actual Retired Judge

Don’t worry, Judy Sheindlin, AKA Judge Judy, is not just some actress hired for entertainment purposes while the real judges do the actual work behind the scenes. Nope, she’s the bonafide real deal. She earned her Juris Doctor degree and passed the New York state bar in 1965, when she was just 23 years old. She subsequently worked as a lawyer, before Mayor Ed Koch appointed her as a judge in the criminal court. By 1986 she was promoted to supervising judge and worked specifically in Manhattan’s family court. After presiding over 20,000 cases, she retired in 1996, at the age of 54. But her career was just getting started.

#9: She Originally Didn’t Want the Show Named After Her

“Judge Judy” is now a household name, a cornerstone of dramatic courtroom television, no-nonsense slap downs, and funny YouTube compilations. “Hot Bench” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but that is almost what we got. According to Miriam-Webster, a hot bench is “a judge…that actively questions lawyers presenting appellate arguments.” However, the producers advised against the name, as it would confuse viewers who were not familiar with legal terms. They wanted something punchy and attention-grabbing. Judy then brainstormed the rather corny “Judy Justice” before settling on the now iconic “Judge Judy.” We think she made the right decision, don’t you?

#8: Her Show Revitalized Reality Courtroom Television

Reality courtroom television was quite popular throughout the ‘80s thanks primarily to “The People’s Court,” but interest was beginning to wane by the mid ‘90s. Both “The People’s Court” and the “Divorce Court,” which had been sporadically airing since 1957, came to an end in 1993. “Jones & Jury,” a replacement of sorts for “The People’s Court,” ended after just one season in 1995. Things looked dour for the reality courtroom drama. Enter “Judge Judy,” which premiered in September of 1996 and became a quick success. “The People’s Court” returned the following year, “Divorce Court” was brought back in 1999, and a host of imitators, including “Judge Mathis” and “Judge Joe Brown,” soon followed.

#7: She Was Honored with the Sheindlin Forum

Judge Judith Scheindlin has had a profound impact on civil discourse. Her work and legacy were honored by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, who built The Sheindlin Forum in their Wallis Annenberg Hall. The forum also honors Judge Judy’s husband, Judge Jerry Sheindlin. The forum is meant to promote intelligent, civil discourse and also serves as the host of the USC Annenberg Debate Series. It’s a great way to honor Judge Judy’s career and legacy, and it’s a fantastic space for young adults to learn the value in complex but civil, principled, and morally ethical discourse.

#6: She Is Always Briefed on the Case

“Judge Judy” may air on television for our entertainment, but the cases and rulings are 100% genuine. Even before she enters the studio, Judge Judy has a firm grasp on the contents and relevant information of the case, as producers send her the pertinent details of each case before she shows up on set. She reads the necessary information at home before traveling to Los Angeles to film each episode. And it may surprise you to hear that while the cases are real, the audience is not. The audience is often composed of aspiring actors who are paid a low hourly rate to sit in the room and look intently interested in the case. Where do we sign up?

#5: She Has Always Worn Her Signature Lace Collar

When you think of Judge Judy, what do you see in your mind? While her hair and stern expression are undoubtedly memorable it’s a particular item in her wardrobe that has become the most iconic. The lace collar has always been a part of Judy’s wardrobe, dating all the way back to her time in family court. She bought her first lace collar in Greece while vacationing with her husband, and she decided to incorporate it into her professional wardrobe. She later admitted that she wore the cute collar to disarm and throw off litigants, as they would let their guard down after seeing such a sweet looking judge. Needless to say, they would be hit with a major curveball once she began speaking.

#4: She Proposed to Her Husband

Judge Judy knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to go after it. And that’s true in her personal as well as her professional life. According to a profile in DuJour, Judy met Jerry Sheindlin only three weeks after divorcing her first husband, Ronald Levy. They met at a bar, and Judy literally walked up to him and put her finger in his face, asking, “And who is this?” Lovely story, isn’t it? She later proposed to him and firmly told him to “pick a date,” and despite some initial hesitation on his part, he finally agreed, and they married in the late ‘70s. Despite a brief divorce in 1990, they have remained married ever since. She also has five children (two biological and three stepchildren through Jerry) and more than a dozen grandchildren.

#3: “Judge Judy” Was the First Highly Rated Court Show to Win an Emmy

“Judge Judy” not only revitalized interest in reality courtroom TV, it also gave the genre a quality that had never been seen before. In 2013, it won the Emmy for Outstanding Legal/Courtroom Program, an award that was introduced in 2008. Prior to “Judge Judy,” the award had gone to “Cristina’s Court,” “Judge Jeanine Pirro,” and “Last Shot with Judge Gunn.” However, none of those shows are highly rated or long running. “Judge Judy’s” win in 2013 made it the first highly-rated and long-running reality courtroom show to win an Emmy. “The People’s Court” won in 2014 and 2015, although “Judge Judy” reclaimed the crown in 2016 and 2017. In 2019, Judy was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award for her contributions to television.

#2: Byrd Was Judy’s Bailiff in Family Court

Everyone loves Byrd, even though he doesn’t really do a whole lot. He brings in the litigants, introduces Judy, and then just kind of stands there while occasionally laughing or sauntering over to get a piece of paper. Starting in 1986, Byrd began working as a court officer in Manhattan’s family court. It was here that he sporadically worked with Judge Judy, and the two quickly formed a harmonious relationship. However, Byrd moved to California in 1990 to begin work as a U.S. Marshall. Upon learning that his old pal Judy was getting her own show, Byrd sent her a congratulatory letter and offered his service. To his surprise, Judy accepted, and the two have been working together ever since.

#1: She Has Been the World’s Highest Paid TV Host

There are a lot of notable TV hosts out there, but none were as well paid as Judith Sheindlin in 2018. Turns out, there is fantastic money in being a reality show judge! In 2018, Judy beat out Steve Harvey, Ryan Seacrest, Dr. Phil, and Ellen DeGeneres to claim the top spot, earning $147 million in pre-tax income. Granted, this was an especially great year for Judy, as she sold the rights to “Judge Judy” to CBS for $100 million, greatly inflating her typical $47 million salary. However, $47 million a year is certainly nothing to scoff at! According to Forbes, Judy currently has a net worth of $400 million, making her the 48th richest self-made woman in the country.