“Judge Judy” / Judith Sheindlin

Marian Shelton Bronx Family Court Judge Marian Shelton Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgLast week we described the Honorable Marian Shelton, of Bronx Family Court, as “a true judicial diva.” Here’s more about her, from the New York Post:

A Bronx judge had a court clerk’s wife handcuffed and tossed in a cell for contempt – because she whispered “a**hole” after her husband was kept late at work, a state panel has charged.

Family Court Judge Marian Shelton screamed at the woman, “He’ll leave when he’s finished his work, not when you tell him!” before ordering court officers to take her to a holding cell for the weekend….

Pretty awesome. Should we be surprised to learn that Judge Shelton’s wedding was presided over by another colorful and cantankerous New Yorker, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani?
Interesting enough, Judge Shelton is being eyed for elevation — but not to an appellate court. Details after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Marian Shelton: A Judge Judy in Waiting?”

James Brooks Judge James M Brooks Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThe Honorable James M. Brooks — a California trial judge and prior Judge of the Day honoree, with a history of getting himself into hot water — might want to leave comedy to James L. Brooks.
Judge Brooks’s attempts at humor didn’t go over too well with the folks upstairs. From On Point News:

A California judge’s jocular behavior backfired as an appeals court ordered a new trial in an employment bias case, ruling that he had created a “circus atmosphere” and “a courtroom is not the Improv.”…

Brooks’s performance in the bias case against Ricoh Electronics suggests the CJP let him off lightly. The jury returned a defense verdict after a 31-day jury trial during which, the 4th District Court of Appeal said, the judge “allowed, indeed helped create, a circus atmosphere, giving defendants’ lawyer free rein to deride and make snide remarks at will and at the expense of plaintiffs and their lawyer.”

Among other things, Brooks flashed a hand-lettered sign saying “Overruled” when plaintiffs’ counsel Michelle A. Reinglass made objections. “It’s lightening things up,” he said when she objected to the sign.

The appellate court was not amused:

[A] courtroom is not the Improv and the presider’s role model is not Judge Judy. We can only imagine what was in the jurors’ minds as they endured a 30-plus day trial in this atmosphere or the impression of the judicial system they took away with them posttrial.

“[T]he presider’s role model is not Judge Judy.” Well, it depends. If the presider wants to be a respectable and responsible jurist, fine. But if the presider wants his own courtroom television show — a la Judge Larry Seidlin, of Anna Nicole Smith case fame — Judge Judy is a veritable Cardozo.
Court Finds No Humor in Joking Judge’s Trial Antics [On Point News]
O.C. judge rebuked for antics [Orange County Register]
Earlier: Judges of the Day: Wilbur Mathesius and James Brooks

Larry Seidlin Judge Lawrence Seidlin Above the Law Anna Nicole Smith.jpgWhile we were in line at a coffee shop yesterday, footage from the Anna Nicole Smith case was playing on a television above the counter. The customer in front of us turned around and said: “That judge is CRAZY.”
We agree. Judge Larry Seidlin, of Broward Circuit Court, has to be the most ridiculous judge to preside over celebrity litigation since Judge Lance Ito.
If you haven’t been following the litigation, here’s a good CNN write-up:

Judge Larry Seidlin, with his distinctive Bronx honk, down-to-earth approach and plain language, is as much a part of the show in Broward Circuit Court as the case he is presiding over.

Seidlin is hearing arguments over the status of the earthly remains of recently deceased tabloid fixture Anna Nicole Smith. But arguments over child custody and paternity have made their way into the courtroom.

Some legal observers, and even one of the participants, say Seidlin has allowed the proceedings to become a circus.

E.g., Jeffrey Toobin, of CNN and the New Yorker:

“This may be the most ridiculous legal proceeding I have ever watched,” Toobin said. “This judge is one of the least competent judges I have ever seen. He is letting this thing meander all over creation, mostly because he seems to enjoy being on television.”

Court TV’s Lisa Bloom concurs, observing that it’s all “wearing a little thin.”
But legal affairs reporters aren’t the only ones with low opinions of Judge Seidlin:

According to the Miami Herald, 22 percent of the lawyers responding to the 2004 Broward County Bar poll found Seidlin unqualified.

A blog of the Justice Advocacy Association of Broward concludes that Seidlin is, among other things, a victim of “his inner comedian.”

We’ve all seen judges like this (and we’ve all laughed, with exaggerated loudness, at their jokes). CNN suggests a motive for Judge Seidlin’s hamming it up in the Anna Nicole Smith proceedings:

The judge’s offbeat folksiness combines the directness of a Judge Judy with the touchy-feely common sense of a Dr. Phil. He could be auditioning for his own television show….

“He’s very entertaining, there’s no question about it,” [said Court TV's Lisa Bloom]. “But it’s not about entertainment. At Court TV we keep in mind that these are real people here.”

This is confirmed by TMZ.com, which reports that “Judge Larry Seidlin’s dream is to become a judge on a TV courtroom show” — and notes that his surname “is extremely similar to Judge Judy Sheindlin.”
Here’s a telling fact: Judge Seidlin is a former New York cabbie. You know when you climb in a cab, with a splitting headache, and just want to sit back with your eyes closed — but the cabbie insists on talking your ear off? Judge Seidlin sounds like he was one of THOSE cabbies, back in the day.
Please, Your Honor — spare us. We’re not interested in your thoughts on the war in Iraq (referenced in a lengthy spiel on Wednesday).
Just drive. Thank you.
P.S. Not all taxicab drivers turned judges are so problematic. See, e.g., Thomas Hardiman (W.D. Pa.) — who drove a cab before going to law school. But Hardiman, of course, is a federal rather than state judge.
If Anna Nicole Smith Case Is a Circus, Judge Is Ringmaster [CNN]
All Rise!!! Judge Seidlin Says He’s Ready for TV [TMZ.com]

Listen up, Chief Justice Roberts! Here are two new arguments you can use to make the case for higher judicial pay.
1. From the Drudge Report:
Drudge Report Judge Judy Judith Sheindlin.jpg
Shira Scheindlin Judge Judith Sheindlin Judge Judy Above the Law.JPGAccording to Forbes, Judge Judy has a net worth of $95 million. She earns $25 million a year — over 100 times the Chief Justice’s salary.
Random aside: Contrary to rumor, and despite their shared irascibility, Judge Judy Sheindlin (at left) and Judge Shira Scheindlin (S.D.N.Y.; at right) are NOT related. As you can see, their last names are spelled differently. Despite this difference, Judge Scheindlin of the Southern District regularly receives telephone calls from people in search of televised justice.
2. Because of his low pay, Justice Clarence Thomas has been reduced to eating at ESPN Sports Zone.
(Yes, we know, CT got a seven-figure advance for his memoirs. But when you enjoy Corvettes, luxury RVs, and fine cigars, the money goes fast.)
Wonk’d: Barely Legal [Wonkette]
The Richest 20 Women In Entertainment: Judith “Judge Judy” Sheindlin (#13) [Forbes]

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