Is Judge Judy a fraud?

She is the highest paid “judge” in the world. In reality, she’s a private arbitrator who pretends to be a real judge on her famous court TV show, but that is not why she might be a fraud, at least not according to this critical blog post by Alex Mayyasi (via Priceonomics). According to Mr Mayyasi’s Priceonomics post, Judge Judy “reiterates the theme of responsibility and accountability over and over … On her show, she gives a tongue lashing to defendants who make excuses and reprimands victims who exercise poor judgment.” But in reality, after she admonishes guilty defendants and orders them to pay for what they’ve done, it’s the producers of her show who end up paying for those damages. (See the sample letter below the fold.) Nevertheless, we respectfully disagree with Mr Mayassi’s analysis. It’s true that when defendants agree to go on Judge Judy’s TV show, they do so in exchange for avoiding liability in their original court cases. But that said, there is still some positive probability that the defendant in any given case will prevail. Moreover, win or lose, the defendant is still assuming the very real residual risk that Judge Judy will embarrass him or her before a national audience. By accepting this risk (i.e. by willingly subjecting themselves to the possibility of such ridicule and embarrassment from Judge Judy), the defendants are, in fact, assuming responsibility for their actions, at least on some level. What do you think?

Winner of Best Book Title

Sounds like a good deal to us.

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
This entry was posted in Deception, Ethics, Law. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Is Judge Judy a fraud?

  1. Jan Seymour says:

    I was a witness on her show, but was not permitted to utter one word. The plaintiff wasn’t even allowed to present his case, only answer Judge Judy’s questions, which had little to nothing to do with his case. It was so frustrating because you knew how off the mark she was and yet you couldn’t do anything about it. At one point, the plaintiff was able to produce the legal document he was instructed by the show’s producer to bring, and JJ’s response was to extend her hand at arm’s length, palm outward, much like a traffic cop and shout, “NOT ANOTHER WORD!” Interestingly, this segment was cut when the show aired.

    The plaintiff had filed suit in a legitimate court originally, but since the defendant lived out of state, he could not be served. About that time, Judge Judy’s Team came calling and it seemed a good alternative to giving up. We thought we had an air-tight case, complete with a notarized legal document as proof.  NOT SO—JJ began by yelling at the plaintiff, telling him how annoyed she was with his lawsuit even though her own producer had solicited the case. It all seemed so fake. You know you’re being set up when the staff instructs you explicitly to do what will annoy the judge. They also rewrite your statement so the information JJ receives is secondhand and inaccurate.

    In hindsight, it was a HUGE mistake to have ever considered Judge Judy. The entire proceeding was a charade, with the outcome of the case decided well in advance and, unfortunately, this could happen to anyone. I am by no means a marginal person living on the fringe of society. I have a post-graduate education, a good career, and consider myself an articulate, successful person. However, Judge Judy and her editors made us look like deadbeats and I think this was done with deliberate malice to foster a more entertaining program.

  2. Jon says:

    Sadly television has dumbed down to immeasurable levels. Can it get any worse? Remember the old Court TV network that aired actual courtroom proceedings? That format didn’t last a very longtime since ratings were mediocre. Court TV became Tru TV which is nothing but idiotic, fabricated, cheap reality shows. The average TV viewer doesn’t have the patience, intellect, or interest to watch a television presentation that’s education and the real deal. That’s why TV has become a cesspool of mind-numbing “reality” shows. Judge Judy and the rest of her kangaroo court TV ilk have become very popular due to the cheap, fake, theatrics played out on these shows. The name calling, screaming, berating and insulting are somehow attracting to the home viewer, and worse yet many people think this is how the court system operates. Nothing could be further from the truth! What is presented as “real” on television in most cases is the absolute opposite. That applies to the news media as well. Sad but true.

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