Plaintiffs and defendants TELL IT TO THE JUDGE at their own risk when they're in "Judge Judy"'s TV courtroom. She sees right through the lies and evasions . . . and she won't hesitate a second in giving them what-for. Rita Braver has a Sunday Profile:
She's the tough-as-nails terror of daytime TV:
"Get a job and pay for your bail!"
"Are you an idiot or are you just not paying attention?"
"Let me explain something to you Mr. Grunt: I don't like you."
"Do your math . . . use your fingers and toes!"
And if Judge Judy Sheindlin is talking, you better pay attention:
Braver likened the judge to a drill sergeant: "It's 'Look into my eyes. Don't talk when talking, just shape up.'"
"I think I'm a good fact finder," said Sheindlin. "And if you should've brought that piece of evidence and you didn't, that is not my fault. And if you're 22 years old and if I say to you, 'On what day were you arrested?' and you say to me, 'Which time?' that is not a good thing."
Judith Sheindlin does not just play a tough judge on TV. She was a tough judge for 14 years on New York's City's family court.
No one in her courtroom got away with anything, as "60 Minutes" showed in 1993:
"If that's too hard for you, sir, then I'm gonna put you somewhere where you're gonna be in bed at 9 o'clock - that's where your friends are!"
"You were no-nonsense, not afraid to speak out, not afraid to challenge the system - the way things had always been done," said Braver.
"I knew where people were sleeping in the hallways, you know, instead of doing their job," said Sheindlin. "I knew what systems weren't working."
She was a Brooklyn girl who went to law school, but stopped practicing to stay home with the kids, for a while.
"I was going a little crazy. It wasn't satisfying enough," Sheindlin said. "Kids would go away to school for several hours, I was watching soap operas. I said, 'This is not what you studied for seven years. Something has to happen in my life before the children go to college.'"
A friend said, "I have just the right job for you: Come and work for me in family court" as a prosecutor.
Her job, Sheindlin says, was one thing that led to the breakup of her first marriage. A few years later, she went to meet some friends for a drink and spotted Jerry Sheindlin:
"And I looked at him, and I thought he was adorable," she recalled. "I still think he is adorable!"
When asked what he thought when she walked in," Jerry Sheindlin said, "'Now, that is one pretty lady,' and she kept on getting closer and closer."
They were married, and raised her two and his three children together. They now have 11 grandchildren.
Eventually, both Sheindlins became judges - she in family court, he in criminal court.
"What was it like both being judges?" asked Braver. "Frankly, that sounds like a TV program."
"It was terrific. I just wished that my objections were sustained more often!" Jerry laughed.
"Very good dear, very good," said Judy. "That was a good one."
"Was that a good one?"
"Yeah, one in a row."
To look at them now, you'd never know that they divorced in 1990. They remarried a year later.