Law in Popular Culture

Judge Judy is behind a new courtroom TV show, 'Hot Bench'


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Judith Sheindlin.
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The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considered a “hot bench,” whose judges don’t hesitate to jump in and fire tough questions at lawyers appearing before the court in oral arguments. And that’s even more true of the U.S. Supreme Court, said Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook in a 2004 interview with How Appealing.

Now the nation’s television viewers are about to get a chance to watch a similar approach to parties appearing in consumer cases in a new courtroom reality show. And that’s due to a trip the ever-popular “Judge Judy” Scheindlin took to Ireland, Variety reports.

For years one of TV’s top-earning personalities, the 71-year-old former New York family court judge is spearheading Hot Bench, a new courtroom show expected to premiere on CBS affiliates this fall. It will feature three television judges hearing cases, discussing their views of the law and the facts and ruling from the bench, a traditional method of deciding cases in the United Kingdom.

“When my husband Jerry and I were in Ireland recently, we visited the courts and watched a three-judge bench, which I found both fascinating and compelling,” Sheindlin told Variety. “I immediately thought what a terrific and unique idea for a television program that brings the court genre to the next level. We have assembled three individuals with extremely varied backgrounds to serve as the judges. They are smart and talented, with terrific instincts and great chemistry, and are sure to create a ‘hot bench.’”

The three judges on the new program will be practicing attorneys Tanya Acker and Larry Bakman and Judge Patricia DiMango of the Brooklyn, N.Y., Supreme Court (the state’s trial court), Entertainment Tonight reports.

“The term ‘hot bench’ means a panel of judges who [pepper] the lawyers and litigants with questions, who are proactive, who don’t just sit there as receptors of questions,” Judge Judy told ET. “They want answers, they are active.”

Broadcasting & Cable and the New York Daily News also have stories.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Meet ‘Judge Judy’ Sheindlin, Accidental Celebrity Paid $45M to Work 52 Days a Year”

ABAJournal.com: “Judge Judy Rules as TV’s Highest-Paid On-Camera Personality, TV Guide Survey Says”

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