Judge Judy
February 28, 2019 10:44 AM   Subscribe

The TV show, "Judge Judy" has found a pending lawsuit I have filed and contacted me. They want me to litigate it on the show. I can think of at least half a dozen reasons why that's a bad idea. Are there any good ones?
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Heh - absolutely not, unless you like publicized drama. It always boggles my mind that people will willingly go on these shows - neither party typically comes out looking very good. (I guess - unless they pay you for the experience, or a trip to whatever location it is filmed in - maybe then it would be worth my while) - (and - on edit, apparently they do pay an appearance fee, plus travel costs)
posted by jkaczor at 10:48 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]

Are you in a band? (NB: no cats were actually hurt)
posted by griphus at 10:55 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]

IAAL, IANYL. I have had a couple of clients contacted by JJ-type shows. They may not select you, even if you want to do it. The reason to do it is that (I think) both sides get paid -- it's possible that the defendant doesn't have to pay the judgment even if they lose (the show just covers it out of their production budget). A reason not to do it is that it's just entertainment -- they want people who will look stupid or unreasonable or crazy on-camera. So if you care about the money (and not about being made to look stupid) then you might do it. If you care about the merits (either winning, if you're the plaintiff; or defeating the allegations, if you're the defendant) then it's probably not a great alternative.
posted by spacewrench at 10:58 AM on February 28 [6 favorites]

Oh, and you'll need to hire a lawyer to review the JJ production contract, to understand what you're getting and what you're giving up. If I was representing the defendant in a situation like this, I'd for damn sure be wanting a full release of all of the plaintiff's claims, no matter what.
posted by spacewrench at 11:01 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]

Oh god, no. No no no no no. Do not do this. There is no upside unless you really really need the money and are dying to be on TV.
posted by holborne at 11:09 AM on February 28 [6 favorites]

I wouldn't, no, not if it's something that's actually important to you.
posted by sarcasticah at 11:16 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]

Are there any good ones?

the Fanfare thread would be pretty fun I think
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:16 AM on February 28 [54 favorites]

The reported appearance fee of between $100 and $500 is a potential good reason, but it seems far from good enough.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:27 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]

Not a watcher, but don't they pay any money awarded? If so, that might certainly be an incentive to go on since in a "real" court you get a judgment and then have to collect and often are not able to do so.
posted by uncaken at 12:07 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]

I have to admit I would love to meet Judge Judy so if that's on your bucket list there's another potential reason.
posted by Mchelly at 12:17 PM on February 28 [9 favorites]

the Fanfare thread would be pretty fun I think

To expand on that slightly, you will have a fairly unique perspective on an iconic piece of our culture, potentially some fun stories, and a bit of travel. I would honestly probably do it if I wasn't completely invested in the principle of the case.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:20 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]

posted by terrapin at 12:26 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]

The main upside seems to be - the show will pay you any monetary judgement awarded, so if you're in a trying-to-get-blood-from-a-stone situation you might actually get the money. In real court you get a judgement, but that doesn't always get you the money if they can't/wont pay.
posted by stillnocturnal at 12:33 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]

Was there a situation in which you could have gotten but did not get a receipt for something? Because they seem to like to pick those cases so that they can turn to the camera and scream that you always need to get a receipt. Did anybody "play on" your phone? As in, "...and I was like, 'Wait up, why is this joker playin on my phone?'" Because they also really really seem to like anybody to describe multiple efforts to communicate by phone as "playing on my phone." If property was damaged, do you have umpty photos of the damage that will allow the spectators in the courtroom to groan aloud in delighted horror? That's a major bonus. Was a small dog involved and can you bring the dog in and hold it the whole time you're testifying? Do you have a friend or family member with almost no connection to the case but spectacular hair or a gift for spinnin' yarns so that JJ can say, "And what is this individual's part in this?" and then your friend can display his or her talents? Before Netflix, small claims court television was my absolute favorite ever thing.

On preview, though, I think terrapin has it right.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:36 PM on February 28 [33 favorites]

My sister was invited on the show. It's a better deal for defendants -- who don't have to pay out (Judge Judy pays), who avoid having a civil judgment against them (since it's arbitration), and who get an appearance fee for their trouble -- but it can be okay for plaintiffs. If you have a pretty solid case and you think the defendant is unlikely to be able to pay (or likely to be a vexatious litigant who spends months ducking and dodging in small claims court), going on Judge Judy is likely to get you your settlement, plus the appearance fee, plus a free vacation.

We're pretty sure that they contacted my sister because in her complaint she provided a detailed, factual, and colorful account of her attempts to get her security deposit back from her former landlord and his increasingly bizarre attempts to avoid paying it to her: she's a gifted writer in a family full of lawyers, so she knew how to craft a pleading better than most small claims litigants, and the landlord was a NUTJOB so there was a lot of great detail in there. We think they (correctly) assumed from the filing that they'd get an insane story with an absolute nutbar as a defendant for the low cost of a security deposit. (And the landlord definitely would have made good reality TV.) But my sister was horrified by the suggestion, since she wanted to never deal with this dude again if she didn't have to, and just get her money back, and the thought of letting her landlord play out his drama in public on television with her as his victim was unbearable after suffering from this guy's random screaming phone calls and other awful stuff for nearly two years before she was able to move out. Plus she was embarrassed by the idea of being on TV and she is fairly shy.

(And, as we all assumed he would, pretty much as soon as her landlord was served with the small claims case he decided to pay her in full rather than go to course, because he was all thunder and no lightning.)

Anyway, she kept the letter and other information from the Judge Judy people and loves telling the story of being invited on the show, but would have hated actually going on the show.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:39 PM on February 28 [19 favorites]

I was a paid audience member on 40+ episodes of a comparable show. (Most audience members were real; a few people were hired to sit in camera sightlines and give suitably 'big' reactions.) Most plaintiffs and defendants were in and out of there fairly quickly. Only in one case did the two parties seem genuinely angry at each other (to the point where they were barking at each other during breaks in filming). For most, it didn't seem to be an unpleasant experience. As others have said, the case is essentially settled for both parties by the show covering any judgments.

So to me, as positives, there's the payment, the travel, and the odd experience/story to tell; however, if this lawsuit arises from something that caused emotional trauma and would be uncomfortable to revisit, don't subject yourself to it.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 1:02 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]

A good reason is that you are basically splitting a 5,000 dollar pot with the person you're trying to sue. Normal court is really stressful, there's no guarantee you'll walk away with anything, and it'll probably just end up being another stressful memory to have. I'd be extremely tempted to go on it just to avoid the court or lawyer fees, being a TV weirdo is just a bonus.

Ultimately it probably boils down to what the issue is, I have to assume if they are contacting you, it is because there is something novel or whacky about the case enough to make it appear entertaining on paper at least. I'm sure whatever you're suing about is important to you, but fast-forward in your mind a few years if you can and see if it's the sort of thing you'll always regret not doing the standard way, or if it's the sort of thing that might be a better memory if the frustration and stress was framed and resolved in a weird television production you get to be part of randomly, plus the stories you'll get from the experience.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:14 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]

I know someone who was on People's Court twice, many years apart. As others are saying, I can confirm that the upside is that if you win, you will actually receive the money (because it's coming from the production co, not the other party)...which isn't always the case for small claims court.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:08 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]

The upside is that Judge Judy is just the fucking best. And you would get to be in the same room with her, either getting yelled at yourself (iconic) or witnessing someone who annoys you get yelled at (satisfying) in the way that only Judge Judy can.
posted by phunniemee at 4:47 PM on February 28 [17 favorites]

I don't see any downside unless it's worth more to you than a couple grand.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 4:52 PM on February 28

I would do it just so I could predictably bait her into telling me how stupid I am.

My friends and family would very much enjoy watching Judge Judy get trolled and me get called the worlds biggest idiot.

If the money isnt that much, the experience and future anecdote would totally outweigh any money lost. Go for it.
posted by jasondigitized at 7:36 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]

Every time I watch Judge Judy, I think JJ is the only civilized one, and the litigants both look ridiculous. Maybe they're both playing it over the top for the LOLs, but it still makes my skin crawl.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:54 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]

Here’s a story about some people who faked a dispute to get on Judge Judy. Might give you some idea of what’s involved.

posted by forkisbetter at 8:59 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine was on Judge Judy and she really enjoyed the experience. She and her witness got free travel and hotel all paid for them and she even won. The one bad thing about the experience was that it took them so long to send the check that she'd moved by the time they sent it and she never, ever got the money.

Note: friend's case was super not wacky--she was on her bike and got hit by a car by a sleepy driver. She wasn't super damaged so this ended up being more about bike expenses.

And frankly, it's super low publicity to be on Judge Judy. Unless you have a Jerry Springer soap opera case, I doubt most people will ever see it and I can tell you from my experience of trying to view my friend's episode that JJ episodes are hard to find online and will be yanked off YouTube.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:38 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]

Oh dear god. Don't. Do. It. Just don't. You're better than that, yeah?
posted by james33 at 4:19 AM on March 1

I just want to note that Judge Judy herself is horrifying and a terrible judge (or arbitrator, if you will). Any actual judge who acted like she did would be disciplined and very probably busted down to traffic court, and after that wouldn't be on the bench for any longer than it would take for the Machine to chuck her off it. I think her show actively harms the justice system.
posted by holborne at 7:45 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]

Are you telegenic?

Only relevant question.
posted by Construction Concern at 7:32 AM on March 3

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