Judge Judy.
Judge Judy.

Judge Judy clause changes whole show

One of television's most dependable institutions, Judge Judy, is finally coming to an end after 25 seasons.

Judge Judith Sheindlin herself appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres show this week, where she told DeGeneres that the 2020-21 season of Judge Judy - the show's 25th - will be its last.

"CBS sort of felt, I think, they wanted to optimally utilise the repeats of my program," she said.

"Now they have 25 years of my re-runs," she added.

But there's a surprising fact about the show that even some of its most loyal fans may not realise.

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Over the years, Judge Judy has adjudicated a seemingly inexhaustible supply of real-life small claim disputes, ruling that those in the wrong must pay the other party anywhere up to $US5000 in damages.

You might wonder - how, after so many years on air, does Judge Judy still manage to get willing participants for the show? Why would anyone run the risk of international TV humiliation and a public dressing down when you could tend to the matter in the relative privacy of a small claims court?


The cases are real — the outcome is not.
The cases are real — the outcome is not.

Well, the answer is simple. In return for appearing on the show, the producers cover all costs in Judge Judy's rulings.

That's right: every single one of Judge Judy's rulings - that aggrieved party 'A' has to pay aggrieved party 'B' a sum of several hundred or thousand dollars to cover the costs of trashing their house / totalling their car / killing their budgie - said costs are covered by the show, from a fund reserved specifically for this purpose.

And not only will you not lose out financially by going on Judge Judy, you actually stand to make a little bit of money - even if she rules against you.


Judge Judy, one rich lady. Picture: AP
Judge Judy, one rich lady. Picture: AP

Both the plaintiff and the defendant receive an appearance fee for their time on the show. This appearance fee can vary from $100 to $500, depending on time spent filming.

In addition to this, all travel and accommodation costs are covered by the show: Judge Judy producers will fly you to Los Angeles, put you up in a hotel, and fly you home, regardless of whether you win or lose your case. Think of it as an all-expenses-paid holiday, with your one obligation showing up for a televised 'court' appearance.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is a pretty sweet deal, and at least one fake case has slipped through the cracks: a particularly weird 2010 case of alleged animal abuse was actually concocted by a group of friends who just wanted to score a free LA holiday. They certainly made for good TV:


Just remember, the next time you're cheering as Judge Judy dresses down some small-time crook, demanding they pay up - they'll be doing nothing of the sort, and in fact going home on a free flight a few hundred dollars richer.

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