Everyone gets paid
While it may not be as profitable as hitting the Powerball, appearing on Judge Judy is a financial win-win situation for both the plaintiffs and the defendants. If anything, it’s probably the closest thing to an all-expenses-paid vacation that some of them will ever see. Turner’s letter goes on to say that in addition to paying for the case’s outcome, the show also pays appearance fees to all litigants who appear on the program, along with travel expenses for them and any witnesses they wish to bring along.
Of course, those witnesses have to have something to do with the case, but still, a free trip to Los Angeles will entice anyone to say anything, which often leads to Judge Judy’s next little-known fact.
Some of the cases are fake
Obviously, learning that parts—if not all—of a reality show are staged isn’t much of a surprise these days. But the makers of Judge Judy can deny responsibility for some of the fakery…because some of the people who appear on the show simply fabricate entire cases for them.
In 2010, Vice reported that Jonathan Coward and his friends Brian and Kate concocted an insane story involving two broken televisions and a dead cat in order to get on the show.
(Coward got the idea from another friend who appeared on Judge Judy in the ’90s.) Producers took the bait and flew Coward and his three friends out. After the taping, the trio celebrated by renting a convertible and drinking champagne in a hot tub for the rest of the day. How did it feel to take advantage of Judge Judy? When asked, Coward said,
“It felt awesome! It felt so good.” And no, he shouldn’t feel bad, because…
There are no real judgments, as she’s no longer a judge
Though Sheindlin was appointed a judge by Mayor Ed Koch in 1982, she doesn’t preside as a real judge on television. The set has all the accessories and details of a courtroom, but what Sheindlin does is basically arbitration. As reported by Consumerist, Judge Judy, and other television courts, operate under a contract of adhesion, meaning they “are not bound by real rules of procedure, evidence, or even behavior.”
So on her show, Sheindlin isn’t a judge making a legal decision. She’s more of a mediator trying to solve other people’s problems. So at most, she’s just a glorified middle school vice principal.