Law in Popular Culture

Meet 'Judge Judy' Sheindlin, Accidental Celebrity Paid $45M to Work 52 Days a Year


When Judith Sheindlin agreed in 1993 to allow a reporter for the Los Angeles Times to sit quietly in the back of the New York courtroom in which she worked as a $120,000-a-year judge on family law matters, she thought he planned to report on a case.

Instead, he profiled the hardworking, no-nonsense “Judge Judy” who is now a household name among daytime television watchers who tune in to see her tell it like it is to those who appear before her. The LA Times piece led to a 60 Minutes interview, and Hollywood offers soon followed. Today, in her 15th year of syndication, Sheindlin is paid $45 million to work 52 days a year as America’s favorite adjudicator and hector, reports USA Today in a lengthy profile on Sheindlin.

With growing ratings that have now topped Oprah Winfrey’s for most of the current season, the 67-year-old Sheindlin doesn’t appear likely to retire anytime soon. However, she considers her family the most important priority in her life, even as she enthuses about the opportunity that television offers to educate the public about personal responsibility and the law.

“I know this sounds clichéd, but I think people want to learn something when they watch TV,” she tells the newspaper. “Especially women. I think they’re tired of shows where people are screaming at each other, throwing things at each other. It’s an important lesson if you can tell a woman that she has choices, even if she’s with a man who bullies and beats her. I’m going to stand up for that.”

For more details about Sheindlin and her career, read the full USA Today article.

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