Smart, savvy and opinionated, the irrepressible Judge Judith Sheindlin continues to hold court as presiding judge on JUDGE JUDY, which has been the #1 show in daytime for two consecutive seasons. Additionally, JUDGE JUDY, was the #1 show in first-run syndication for the 2010-11 season. The syndicated program returns for its 16th season on Monday, September 12, 2011. Having made a name for herself as a tough but fair judge in New York's Family Court, Judge Sheindlin retired from the bench in 1996 to bring her trademark wit and wisdom to the widely successful series that takes viewers inside a television courtroom where justice is dispensed at lightning speed.
Judge Sheindlin's career in family court began in 1972, prosecuting juvenile delinquency cases for the state of New York. Although an emotionally taxing job, Judge Sheindlin knew right away she had found her calling, quickly developing a reputation as a sharp, no-nonsense lawyer. In 1982, then New York Mayor Edward Koch appointed Judith Sheindlin to the bench in the Family Court.
In 1986, she was appointed the Supervising Judge in Manhattan and, since then, has heard more than 20,000 cases during her career. A swift decision-maker with no tolerance for lame excuses, Judge 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 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," Judge Sheindlin said.
Even as a child, Judge Sheindlin 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 said. She attended college at the School of Government at American University in Washington, D.C., and after her graduation in 1963, went on to New York Law School where she received her degree. She began practicing law in Manhattan in 1965.
As one of the most outspoken judges in the country, Judge Sheindlin was the subject of a Los Angeles Times article in February 1993. The story caught the attention of "60 Minutes," which soon led to a segment on the popular newsmagazine show.
After her appearance, Judge 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-holds-barred 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 robe for television, Judge Sheindlin said, "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."
In 1996, Judge Sheindlin published 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, she offers provocative and realistic suggestions for what she sees as weaknesses in the Family Court system, 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 best seller, 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 Sheindlin published her first children's book entitled "Win or Lose By How You Choose." Her second book in the genre, "Judge Judy Sheindlin's You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover," followed the next year. Designed as tools to help parents interact with their children, engaging illustrations accompany a series of clever questions that encourage parents to discuss the answers and evaluate the consequences of each course of action with their children.
Published in 2000, Sheindlin's third book for adults, "Keep It Simple, Stupid: You're Smarter Than You Look," shares her wisdom and opinions on solving everyday family squabbles. The paperback re-release, "You're Smarter Than You Look," was published a year later.
Over the past 15 seasons, the popularity of JUDGE JUDY has transcended daytime television to become part of America's pop culture. As a result, she has appeared on "Saturday Night Live"; has served as a judge for the "Miss America Pageant"; and has been profiled on "Nightline," A&E's "Biography,"MSNBC's "Headliners & Legends," E! Entertainment's "Celebrity Profile" and Lifetime Television's "Intimate Portrait." She's also been featured on "The Today Show," "Dateline NBC," "Larry King Live," "The Tonight Show," "Live! With Regis and Kelly," "Rachael Ray," "The View," "The Insider" and "Entertainment Tonight," as well as been interviewed in major national publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Family Circle, People, Entertainment Weekly, Modern Maturity, Parade, Good Housekeeping, TV Guide, Redbook and Time, to name a few.