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Judge Judith Sheindlin
Presiding Judge on Judge Judy
Smart, savvy and opinionated, the irrepressible Judge Judith Sheindlin holds court as presiding judge over real-life cases on the highly-successful courtroom series Judge Judy. Having made a name for herself as a tough but fair judge in New York's Family Court, Judge Judith Sheindlin retired from the bench in 1996 and segued to television to host the syndicated series. Judge Judith Sheindlin brings her trademark wit and wisdom to the widely successful half-hour series that takes viewers inside a television courtroom where justice is dispensed at lightning speed.
Judge Judith Sheindlin's career in family court began in 1972 prosecuting juvenile delinquency cases for the state of New York. Though it was an emotionally taxing job, Judge Judith Sheindlin knew right away she had found her calling, quickly developing a reputation as a sharp, no-nonsense lawyer. In 1982, New York's then-Mayor, Edward Koch, appointed Judge Judith Sheindlin to the bench as a Judge in the Family Court.
Four years later, she was appointed the Supervising Judge in Manhattan and since then, has heard over 20,000 cases in her career. A swift decision-maker with no tolerance for excuses, Judge Judith Sheindlin earned a reputation as one of New York's toughest judges. While on the bench, her message was simple -- take responsibility for yourself, your actions and the children you've brought into the world. Judge Judith Sheindlin is credited with pioneering an "open court policy," allowing the public and the media to view her day-to-day proceedings, which was not a common practice at the time. "Americans have the right to know how their interests are being represented," says the Judge.
Even as a child, Judy seemed destined to pursue a legal career. Never without an opinion or point of view, everything was a debate to young Judy. "My father thought I would be a Senator because I was always arguing with him!" she comments. Judge Judith Sheindlin attended college at the school of Government at American University in Washington, D.C., graduating in 1963. She went on to New York Law School, receiving her law degree in 1965 and began practicing law in Manhattan.
As one of the most outspoken judges in the country, Judge Judith Sheindlin became the subject of a Los Angeles Times article in February 1993. The piece caught the attention of "60 Minutes," leading to a segment on the popular newsmagazine show which brought her national recognition.
She was then approached by Harper Collins to write a book about her experiences on the bench, which lead to the 1996 publishing of her first book Don't Pee On My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining. In this brutally honest criticism of the family court system, Judge Judith Sheindlin offers provocative and realistic suggestions for what she sees as the Family Court system's weaknesses, including steps to reform welfare fraud, foster care, juvenile delinquency and frivolous lawsuits. She also points out that our justice system is inherently flawed, rewarding troubled youth with professional attention and beautiful facilities, while leaving good kids alone to languish in broken-down schools. "The time for change was yesterday. The time to wake up is now," she exclaims. Her second book Beauty Fades, Dumb Is Forever was published in January 1999. A national bestseller, the book takes an in-depth look at women's issues, including the need to have self-esteem, independence, self-reliance and most importantly, a sense of humor.
In February 2000, Judge Judy published her first children's book Win or Lose By How You Choose. Designed as a tool for parents to interact with their children, engaging illustrations accompany a series of clever questions that encourages parents to discuss the answers and evaluate the consequences of each course of action.
Her latest book for adults, Keep It Simple, Stupid, was published in July 2000, in which she shares her no-nonsense opinions on solving everyday family squabbles.
After her appearance on "60 Minutes," Judge Judith Sheindlin was approached about the possibility of presiding over real cases with real consequences in a television courtroom. Intrigued by the notion of bringing her no-nonsense message to a national audience, she agreed. Shortly thereafter, JUDGE JUDY became a reality, premiering in national syndication on September 16, 1996. When asked about her decision to hang up her robes for television, Judge Judith Sheindlin comments, "For 24 years, I tried to change the way families deal with problems on a very small scale, one case at a time. Now I can use the skills I have developed and take my message to more people everyday."
Over the past four seasons, the popularity of Judge Judy has transcended daytime television to become part of America's pop-culture. She has appeared on "Saturday Night Live." She's been mentioned on network TV shows such as "Will & Grace," and on the "Academy Awards." She was selected to serve as a judge for the 1999 Miss America Pageant. She was profiled on A&E's "Biography." She's also been featured in the 1999-00 season by several national television outlets including, "Entertainment Tonight," as well as "The Today Show," "Dateline," CNN's "Larry King Live," "The Tonight Show," "The View," "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," and many others.
JUDGE JUDY has also been featured in several major publications, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, People, Entertainment Weekly, Modern Maturity, McCall's, Parade, Good Housekeeping, TV Guide and Time, as well as many other local publications. Judge Judith Sheindlin is married to Jerry Sheindlin, a former Justice of the Supreme Court of New York. The second marriage for both, they have five children between them, Gregory, Jamie, Jonathan, Adam and Nicole, as well as five grandchildren.
Although production takes place in Los Angeles, Judy lives in New York and enjoys working out daily, traveling, spending time with her grandchildren, snorkeling, ice skating and of course, bargain shopping. In addition to her academic degrees, she holds an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.
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