Wednesday, September 14, 2016


The honorable Judge Alex E. Ferrer has returned to TV Land. He never fully left us, as he could be found as a commentator almost weekly or even often even more frequently on FOX or on other outlets. His return in this case , however, is as a judge on TV. He has been sorely missed. What we will be seeing are repeats of first-run episodes. The idea is that the repeats of previous episodes of Judge Alex will garner sufficiently favorable ratings that another company will pick up the show for fresh episodes. It would certainly make my day, week, or year if such were to turn our to be the case.

Please allow me to digress ever so slightly to a topic that is a sensitive one in my family  and in my immediate circles-- one which easily becomes sensitive for other reasons among non-family members. In my immediate family, though not necessarily among all of my cousins, adults are not addressed by their first names by my brother and me. Aunts and uncles are "Aunt Marthalene" and "Uncle Douglas."  Siblings of non-biological aunts or uncles either receive the obligatory aunt of uncle status or are called Mr. or Mrs, depending upon the closeness of the association between them and my parents, Even extended cousins of different generations, as in first-cousins-once-removed or second cousins significantly older than Matthew or I are "Cousin Eileen" or "Cousin Anthony." Older adults who are friends of the family either receive honorary "aunt" or "uncle" status  or are Mr., Mrs. Miss, or Ms. My parents raised us not to address adults by their first names even when the adults in question would at times have  preferred to have been addressed lees formally. It was a non-negotiable sticking point with my parents, and it stuck.

I'm no longer a child. I'm in a gray area in terms of how to address others in some settings. Professionally, it's often clear-cut. I use titles for those who out-rank me or for nurses whose age is anywhere in the neighborhood of twice mine, as I do not wish to give the impression that as a young person who is making her way through the ranks, I consider that my rank and achievement supercede the  importance that of the other person. So I continue with the Mr., Mrs,  Ms., or Nurse unless the person I've addressed by his or her title insists that I call him or her otherwise, in which case I honor his or her request. In general, while addressing or referring to a person by his or her title is seen as a sign of respect or deference, such is not automatically the case. It could be seen as a way of rubbing another person's nose in the idea that I've achieved what I have at a young age. What I might intend as a sign of deference or submission, another might accept as condescension or cockiness.  Good manners exist not as a way of embarrassing or causing a person to feel ill at ease over a over which spoon to use for which course of dinner or, for that matter, over anything else. The true intent of etiquette is quite the opposite; it is the graciousness intended to put others at ease. 

Still, often I cannot find the elusive line that determines whether I'm being brash by using a person's first name or calling attention to a person's fading youth by addressing him without any sort of title. I've decided that, for the most part, I'll use titles, particularly where the issue is one of rank or achievement and not so much of age, unless the person point-blank asks me yo call him or her by a first name. Judge Alex sometimes identifies himself as "Alex" when speaking to me, but he's never corrected me when I've called him "Judge Ferrer," so I shall continue to call him "Judge Ferrer" until he asks me not to do so or until I turn some arbitrary age such as thirty -- whichever one happens first.

For me this applies also to celebrities -- not so much to those purely in the entertainment or pseudo-entertainment world. I wouldn't feel compelled to address any of the Kardashians and their ilk, as Mr. Mrs., Ms, Lord,or anything else of such nature. Staying current  would be be too confounding, anyway. Academic titles would be a non-issue with their hangers-on. Any degrees associated with titles would be honorary, and even South Harmon Institute of Technology wouldn't likely waste its paper and the ink in its print cartirdges on the likes of the Kardashians. One doesn't receive a special title supplanting Mr. or Mrs. simply by holding  a bachelor's degree, which only a couple of the living Kardashians have earned, anyway, however intelligent and erudite they take pleasure in deluding themselves into believing that they are. Suffice it to say that I don't concern myself with honorary degrees upon  anyone who may have conned an unsuspecting institution of higher learning into bestowing upon them when I'm deciding how to address anyone.

As superficial as it may sound, I apply the same consideration I would apply in real life when referring to individuals in politics or in the judicial system, whether it be in real life or in TV courtrooms. Not all TV "judges" are or have ever been actual judges. Furthermore, I don't believe there's any law preventing any given person from adding "Governor" to his name as long as he doesn't portray himself falsely as the governor of an actual state of which he is not the bona fide governor. If I know that a tv judge hasn't served as an actual judge in any capacity except perhaps at a county fair hog-calling or pie -eating competitions, I would take whatever liberties I feel like taking when addressing or referring to the person. (My upbringing doesn't require me to show titular deference to the likes of Angelina Jolie or Lawrence Welk.) If I haven't researched the situation carefully and have insufficient evidence in either direction that the person ever sat on the proverbial bench, I give him the benefit of the doubt,  though more often than not, however, I'm being more than generous in doing so. Judge Judith Scheindin, I do know, was an actual judge in the state of New York, As such, I would, were the opportunity to present itself,  give her the respect that is due.

Judge Scheindlin, who is supposedly a lovely person in real life, is a bit shrill on her show. I dislike saying that because it sounds sexist to me  -- males are rarely referred to as shrill,  but it also seems true to me. Judge Scheindlin can be funny, but her humor is too rarely self-deprecating. I like her bailiff, and I even like her in many ways. When it seems that she reaches conclusions in regard to the truthfulness of what has been said too quickly, my suspicion is that we're missing something that ended up on the cutting room floor or that something in statements that were given by the litigants in advance hs led her to her conclusion she reached; I don't think she's pulling accusations of lying out of thin air, or at least I hope she isn't. I also think her instincts are uncanny.  

On the other hand, I  don't like that Judge Scheindlin's rulings are too often based on what would be fair in her perfect world, as opposed to existing laws either in the jurisdiction in which her show takes place or the jurisdiction in which the case was originally filed. I do think she has a way of drawing the truth out of youngsters. Insolent adolescents will be insolent adolescents regardless of by whom they are being interrogated, though I do feel that Judge Alex Ferrer intimidates them more effectively into admitting things than they might otherwise admit, and I think he wordlessly commands greater respect from them than do the other judges. (Judge Marilyn Milian is great, but I would have talked back to her just like I talked back to my own mother, with the primary distinction between myself and her litigants being that I could never have found myself as a defendant in any courtroom as a kid and lived to tell about it.) Teens don't seem to roll their eyes at Judge Alex nearly so much as they do at other TV judges. I'm not certain why, as it's not as though he's going to jump over the bench and hit them. Regardless, whatever he has, which may be merely testosterone combined with recent parenting experience, he does force a bit more of the "punk" out of impudent adolescents in his courtroom than do the other TV judges.  Since [I think] she owns the company that produced her show, Judge Scheindlin can do things however she wants, but it sometimes seems as though she puts herself upon a pedestal a la King Solomon of "cut the baby in half" fame.  Laws exist in part to limit judges' power, as no branch of our government should wield excessive power if we are to function as a democratic republic. We're not a true democracy now if we have ever been such.

Judge Marilyn Milian of The People's Court also worked her way up through the legal system as a state attorney, a county court judge, and circuit court judge. I'm not entirely certain whether her rulings are based on the laws of the jurisdiction of the location in which she films her show, or whether they are based on the statues of the location from which the litigants appearing originally filed their suits, but her rulings appear to have some basis in law as opposed to rights and wrongs she would define in her own perfect world if she were so fortunate and/or wealthy to possess her own personal world in which to make rulings. She's funny, an she is generally kind to her litigants until they give her a reason to be otherwise. She does fly off almost as if on a broom on occasion when someone truly sets her off. Once a graduate of the University of Miami Law School chose to manage his case in a manner that was not properly respectful of the court.  I cannot recall everything that was said as Judge Milian threw him out of her courtroom, but he made a remark to the effect that Douglas (the mild-mannered but physically imposing bailiff) had best not touch him. Judge Milian responded to the effect that she would be perfectly happy if Douglas beat the man to a bloody pulp. Judge Milian is normally congenial, but can be pushed to a state of agitation. In another instance, a young girl of perhaps eleven years had been walking her dog on a leash when the dog was attacked and seriously injured or killed by a vicious dog who ws sometimes allowed to run loose in the neighborhood. (Not all eleven-year-olds are equal.Some eleven-year-old girls are eleven-going-on-twenty-one; this eleven-year old was a little girl.) The defendants' defense was that the child should have know that the neighborhood was the territory of the vicious and unrestrained dog and should therefore have walked her dog on another street. Judge Milian was so incredibly outraged by the defendants' casually dismissive stance that she exploded on them in an almost unprecedented way. I say almost because although she's congenial as a rule, it's not unprecedented for her to unload on litigants who are far our of line. Anyway, her vitriol was such that she frightened the little girl who was a part of the plaintiff side. She tried to concole the girl, calling her "mami" [a Hipanice term of endearment for a female child], telling her than she had done absolutely nothing wrong. The cameras don't show everything. She probably hugged the child later in attempt to console her. The point here is that Judge Milian, who can be angered, also has a heart. She's good, but still she's not Judge Alex.

I could write all day about him and still not capture the essence of what is truly Judge Alex Ferrer. If you turn his show on for three minutes, then turn it off, you may find yourself asking, "What was she talking about? I've see funnier guys than this at the morgue."  It may take more than a few minutes of viewing time to understand just what it is of which I'm writing. Most of the the TV judges are funny to some degree. If they're totally  lacking in humor, their shows don't last for long. With Judge Alex, however, it's both deeper and more spontaneous. The humor is on par with that of a professional comedian, yet is far too off-the-cuff for the jokes ever to be written in advance for him. Judge Ferrer, like most brilliant comedians (Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert come to mind) and with the very few politicians throughout history who possessed the gift with which  to turn the banter of a press conference almost into an art form, has a gift -- some would say one of educational theorist Howard Gardner's  multiple intelligences. Gardner started out with seven forms of intelligence and ended up with at least nine, with humor not being one of the nine. I'm inclined to say that , even with "funny" often being in the eye, ear,  mind, and personal taste of the beholder, Gardner  missed at least one one when he was delineating what he believed to be  separate areas of intelligence. I personally view humor as more than just a part of linguistic intelligence. The power to be incredibly funny on  regular basis in and of itself is its own form of intelligence, and Judge Alex Ferrer possesses it to a high degree, which is not to say that he lacks other more conventional forms of intelligence. He doesn't, and is definitely one of he sharpest tacks in the package. Find the show in your local listings (and complain to your provider if you cannot find it) so you'll understand of what I write.

I have to admit that I cheated on Judge Alex once or twice in the interim while his show was on hiatus. The most recent instance of which I can think was not long ago when Judge Mablean (whose show is mediocre at best, but she struck gold with this particular case) featured a case involving parents who sent their kid to fat camp, and  who then  sued the owner/director. It seemed that their child either didn't lose as much fat as the parents would have liked or possibly even actually gained weight.  Part of the problem is that another fat camper was sufficiently entrepreneurial to sneak in candy, chips, and other snacks to sell to the other kids at fat camp. The child was caught and kicked out of fat camp, but some of the damage had already been done. The parents who were suing might have stood a chance at prevailing in the case had there not been a clearly stated rule among the rules they signed, which was that absolutely no money was allowed at camp. Had their child not brought money, he wouldn't have had the means to purchase the contraband from the entrepreneur.  Furthermore, the camp owner/director listed average weight loss numbers but made no guarantees whatsoever.  In any event, despite Judge Mablean's modest skills as a TV judge, it was a compelling case.

Judge Alex, if you do begin filming new cases, I would highly recommend that you scour the fat camps of America in search of someone there with an axe to grind against someone else.  Fat babies crawling or rolling around on a stage, or fat kids arguing about why they didn't lose the advertised number of pounds at fat camp, make for the sort of TV from which a viewer cannot turn away even if he or she wanted to do so, which he or he probably would not.

As TV fodder goes, one cannot go wrong with a case featuring fat camp attendees.

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