Monday, January 21, 2013

The Judge Shows: Judge Alex Kicks A$$

In addition to sitting around in my pajamas watching the inauguration, I watched several of the courtroom TV programs today. It's probably about time for my quasi-annual review of courtroom TV dramas.

The one with Cristina Perez - I can't even remember what the current incarnation is called; she had a show called "Cristina's Courtroom," but I believe it was canceled. Then someone remade a program for her, or somehow she showed up on TV again. She as a person is likable, but I don't find her terribly credible as a judge. It seems as though she may have been an attorney but not an actual judge in real life.

I also caught  one episode of Judge Greg Mathis. He, too, is likable but not terribly believable as a judge.  I don't know if he is a bona fide rags-to-riches story or if he merely plays one on TV, but he seems to try to approach the litigants on their own level which, in my uneducated opinion, is probably a mistake.

Judge Joe Brown is sandwiched between a couple of other shows I watch, so I occasionally get an episode or two of his show whether I want to or not if I'm too lazy to locate the remote control and turn the TV off between programs. I'm not crazy about either Ms. Sonja, his bailiff, or his announcer, whose name I've never bothered to remember, nor, for that matter,  most of his litigants. To be fair, the litigants on most of the shows seem sanity- and reality-challenged, but Judge Joe Brown's litigants seem to be from a slightly slimier cesspool than are the litigants on the other courtroom TV dramas.  I also wonder why the litigants address him as  "Judge Joe Brown" rather than as "Your Honor," "Judge Brown, " or even "Yo, Dude."  Are litigants given a fifty dollar bonus or  extra points toward a verdict in their favor each time they utter the words "Judge Joe Brown"? It certainly seems like it.

"Divorce Court" with Judge Lynn Toler  seems somewhat misnamed. She's more like a marriage counselor than a divorce court or family court judge.  I'm far from an expert on the subject, but once a marriage reaches the stage of going to court to dissolve it, isn't it usually beyond the point of the judge or mediator or anyone else talking the parties through their troubles and encouraging them to work things out? She seems like a nice enough lady; it's just the show's premise that's a bit far-fetched.

Judge Marilyn Milian is the reigning judge on The People's Court. She seems to be a genuinely nice person who can be temperamental and is capable of totally going off on a litigant if she is not accorded her due respect or if anyone irritates her or if she's having an especially annoying day. She seems to usually render verdicts based actual law as it may have been written somewhere, as opposed to totally pulling her rulings out of thin air, though sometimes the rulings also seem to be based on Cuban'Spanish folk sayings rather than on actual case law.  My dad says she is a beautiful woman who has mastered the art of aging gracefully.

Judge Judy is the big fish in the medium-sized pond of court TV programs, and she conducts herself in her courtroom as though she knows this to be the case.  I believe she owns the company that produces her shows. When the litigants begin to belabor a point or linger on a topic for too long, she reminds them of the costs of film, lighting, her time, etc.  She doesn't appear to adhere to any jurisdiction's laws; she seems to make up her own laws as she goes.  It's been suggested that she has a bit of a God complex. She appears to be extremely intelligent; I suspect she also has a sixth sense in terms of discerning whether or not a witness is being truthful. Sometimes perhaps more has been testified to in the courtroom than the viewer sees, which makes her verdicts sometimes appear to be rather arbitrary when solid evidence may have been left on the cutting room floor.  I don't know this for a fact, though. Maybe nothing is left on the cutting room floor, and her verdicts really are as arbitrary as they seem.  I've heard that she's a gracious and very refined lady who plays a role most convincingly on her TV program. She is entertaining, but doesn't come across as terribly kind, and she frequently treats litigants as though they are wasting her time. I could be wrong, but I don't think most of the litigants approached her, begging to have their cases heard on her show. Still, she's entertaining if strident and shrill.

Judge Alex hosts the gold standard of courtroom TV programs.  He has at his disposal a crackerjack staff of legal researchers who study case law as it pertains to the local jurisdiction of each case that appears in his courtroom. The disadvantage to this approach is that the law, especially if it was written somewhere like  Mississippi or Arkansas, may  be without any basis in fairness, logic, or anything else that makes sense to the average human with an IQ above 65. If it's on Judge Alex's show, you're stuck with the screwed-up law. He will apologize for it as he squints while reading it aloud, but his anal-retentiveness that reminds me of the same quality I often observed in my own father in my childhood will not allow him to venture beyond the law as written by a moron in a backwoods locale. He's handsome by almost any standard, profoundly likable, and in possession of a wit as quick as that of Judge Judy. The difference is in how the two judges use their respective humor. Judge Judy almost exclusively gets her laughs at the expense of her litigants, while Judge Alex is much more self-deprecating in his humor, and is as likely, in making a joke, to take a shot at himself as at a hapless litigant.  If his ratings are not higher than those of any other TV courtroom show, it doesn't speak well for the American viewing public.

1 comment:

  1. I don't really care much for Judge Judy's show. I do watch it sometimes, but I watch it with the same jaundiced eye I have for Dr. Phil. I especially hate the way Judge Judy talks to stepparents (stepmothers in particular). I kind of like it when people on the show dare to talk back to her. I got really upset with Judy once and blogged about her, prompting a comment from someone who apparently thought better of it and deleted what she wrote.

    As courtroom shows go, I like Judge Alex too... Did you know there's a guy on RfM who is Judge Alex's brother-in-law? I like Joe Brown and Judge Mathis too, if I'm in the mood for a court show. Divorce Court was a lot better in the 80s, but I think back then it was dramatized like, "The Judge".

    I'm probably way too candid on my blog...