Judge Judy at bench


LOS ANGELES, CA. (WDRB) -- After 17 years, it's still the highest rated 30-minute nationally syndicated show on the air. 

WDRB's Lindsay Allen sat down with Judge Judy in Los Angeles to find out just how much longer she plans to "rule" television.

When asked how the show still fulfills her after 17 seasons, Judy Sheindlin said, "It's just fun, it's still a fun job. I've been so lucky. I've enjoyed a couple of great careers. Really, three -- a prosecutor, a judge in the Family Court and then here. I enjoy going to work every day and each of those jobs were fun the day I said goodbye."

It's fun for Judge Judy Sheindlin, but as millions know from watching her TV show, less fun for the defendants and plaintiffs who appear in her courtroom.

She could be heard in one recent show telling one person, "Go, keep going, move on. Miss Howard, move on."

Her bailiff, Petri Hawkins Byrd, explains, "I've watched her pretty much verbally destroy people so they just stand there like babbling idiots at the end of it. All I have to do is sweep them into a dust pan and take em out and toss 'em."

I don't sugar coat it," Judge Judy says. "You were wrong, you were right. Don't tell me you took three sips when you told the cop two shots. What was it? Two sips or three shots?"

She continues, "That's not harsh. Did it cause embarrassment? Maybe? Well then, you don't lie. That's the lesson. That's the message."

She can't stand a liar and can read right through people spinning a tale to save their rear:  "Well, first of all the most important thing about the truth is, if it doesn't make sense it's probably not true. So you start with that as a premise. If it doesn't make sense to your common sense its usually not true."

From a recent show:  "That's impossible sir, I mean that's impossible. That nobody was there when he made the turn when he hit you."

Sometimes a liar is easy to spot:  "There are certain people, unfortunately women, who wear low things and when they lie this gets all red, bright red, oh, and you cant do anything about it."

Byrd says, "People stop me in the airports and everyplace and 'What's she really like?' they go.  'I think she's mean sometimes.' And I go, 'Yeah.' And they say, 'I think she's right on'.  I go, 'Yeah.'"

Sheindlin says, "I think young people who watch maybe will say to themselves, listen, life is relatively a short journey, it's not a long journey and if I do it right it can be fulfilling.  And if I make wrong steps I can end up behind the 8 ball and sometimes I'll never be able to get myself out."

She continues, "I hope they're getting a little bit smarter. If you watch an hour's worth of television (a day) that's five hours a week and if you learn one new thing, that's terrific."

Lindsay Allen asked, "You're very unafraid to speak your mind. So I'm wondering what was it about your upbringing that made you so able to feel comfortable to speak your mind."  Judge Judy responded, "You aren't always able to speak your mind. This is a particular type of venue, job where I'm able to speak my mind. I'm able to tell the truth as I see it. I'm able to make judgments as I call them."

She does credit coming from a strong family of men and women. Her father thought she'd become a politician because she liked to argue so much.  "It was a good kind of upbringing," she says. "It gave me a confidence and when you have confidence that's the best gift you can give a child.

At 70 years old, she still is holding off retirement:  "The only review, actually, are the viewers, the people who are watching. And if the viewers who are really my appeals court say we've had enough, we've gotten the lesson, we've gotten the message and all right we're going to find something else --there will come a time when that happens, but right now I still think that people are getting a message and it's a message I think they're missing in their everyday lives."

It's that message of doing the right thing that Sheindlin hopes people take away for her show: "You don't drink and get into the car and if you use a jet ski and you damage it because you were drinking and playing around then you're supposed to fix it."

But as she would say, she's not stupid.  She knows her no-nonsense style is what keeps the masses hungry for more and coming back: "There are folks who think I'm too harsh. They watch. But this is the television business so if you're watching that's a good thing."

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