Law in Popular Culture

5 Miami Judges Hold Court on Nation's TV Airwaves

In what is surely a record for any one U.S. city, five former Miami criminal judges are now holding court on reality television shows, and two were nominated for Emmy awards this year.

Among them: Marilyn Milian, who has presided over The People’s Court for eight years; David Young, whose self-titled show, like Milian’s, was nominated for an Emmy; Cristina Pereyra of Final Verdict on the Spanish-language TeleFutura network; “Judge Alex” Ferrer; and “Judge Karen” Mills-Francis’ show will premiere in September, reports the Associated Press and South Florida New Times.

Miami’s judges dominate the nation’s airwaves, some speculate, not only because the city is home to a number of colorful jurists and criminals, but because Florida law allows trials to be broadcast, unlike many states. That gives the judges more public exposure than they would get in many other jurisidictions.

Like some of her compatriots, Milian says the shows can play an important role in educating the public. “You have to understand that America doesn’t get its legal education from $500-an-hour lawyers. They get it from television,” she says.

However, not everyone is a fan of the programs. “I think that TV judges cast the legal profession in a horrible light,” law professor Nancy Rapoport of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas tells the news agency. “The judges violate all the rules of judicial ethics, including treating litigants with respect, and seem more hell-bent on crafting cute little one-liners than on resolving disputes fairly.”

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