What It's Like to Get Justice From 'Judge Judy'

Show offered family some relief after a harrowing period: Leah Smith
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2015 12:44 PM CST
What It's Like to Get Justice From 'Judge Judy'
FILE - In this April 17, 2012 file photo, Judge Judy Sheindlin attends the Vanity Fair Tribeca Film Festival party at the State Supreme Courthouse in New York. elevision's most popular judge is celebrating the 19th season opening of her syndicated show Monday by offering her new book, "What Would Judy...   (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, file)

After a woman facing money trouble clashed with her roommates, she found solace in an unlikely source: Judge Judy. The woman's daughter, Leah Smith, offers a firsthand account of the emotionally and financially draining experience at the Billfold, from her mother's move-in to her televised victory. Her mother, Smith writes, didn't get along with the roommates and decided to move out—but while she was packing, there was a minor physical altercation. Charges against the mother were quickly dropped, but the situation led to emotional trouble at work; the mother's contract wasn't renewed. She wanted to sue for false arrest, but a lawyer said it would be nearly impossible to get the roommates to pay up. She filed anyway, with Smith suggesting this sounded like something out of Judge Judy.

Sure enough, the producers spotted the case and invited the family on. They received $500 for going on the show, as did the roommates, and the show would pay $5,000 if Smith's mother won the case—meaning she wouldn't have to chase down the roommates. Before they went on, a producer told the nervous mom "to think of how angry she was, how much she suffered … She also told my mom to not be afraid to talk back to Judge Judy," Smith writes. Maybe not great courtroom advice, "but the producer was only interested in making good TV." Under the lights, Smith quickly realized that the judge was "on her side"; the family was victorious. The money wasn't much, but "perhaps my mom never cared about the money in the first place—perhaps she just wanted to see those bad roommates again" and "publicly shame them. Money comes and goes, but we’ll have this story forever." Click for the full story. (More Judge Judy stories.)

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