That’s the title of the book by Judge Judy that apparently led to her extremely popular TV “arbitration” show, presented as if it were a small-claims court. As an actual judge, Judy Sheindlin, was known as outspoken, but on the TV series, she takes this to extremes. She’s smart, and she’s quick, fully “self-expressed.”
A comment by Sam, here, pointed to Youtube of her work, which I watched.
I think we might get somewhere if they let this
Judge handle Rossi VS Darden.
I dive into the world of Judge Judy, new to me.
There is a lot there to notice. The behavior in litigants that she demolishes, swiftly and with no-nonsense, is what I might call “loser behavior.” These are real litigants, who have signed waivers to allow their dispute to be settled by Judge Judy, and immunizing her against claims of slander or other alleged misbehavior. So she freely tells a defendant that she is a moron, that her boyfriend (who is present, and bemused) should be careful not to make babies with her, etc. Apparently the litigant behaviors are real, though what is shown is selected for entertainment value.
I watched more Judge Judy videos. I could probably watch them all day. Fascinating. Judge Judy is a jury (as the judge is in a bench trial). She judges on the basis of what she sees, not only what is said. Again, this is why, normally, testimony must take place in the presence of the jury., so they can see the person. There is some exception made now for video depositions.
Noticed: when someone tries to “explain” things to Judge Judy, particularly when they are interrupting someone else, she yells at them, tells them to shut up, and in one case I saw, the woman was removed from the room. In another, being told to listen and shut up, the woman walked out. There was a plaintiff there who listened patiently while a woman complained about him, if he said anything it was “Yes,” i.e., conceding that she was telling the truth — that was actually irrelevant. He won. Other parties shake their heads constantly, expressing “No,” continually, obviously not listening but holding the idea “What a liar!” These often lose.
In Judge Judy’s court, people demolish their own cases by either lying (or at least she concludes they are lying, and it seems quite plausible) or providing “explanations” that are self-serving. In one case, though, a plaintiff who had been accused of assault by the defendant, was trying to “explain.” She had no skill, though her demeanor was decent. In the end, it looked like her claim was being dismissed. She was in tears, thinking this grossly unfair, and giving a circumstantial “proof.” (“If I assaulted her, why was I not arrested right then, when the police came?”) Judge Judy tells her that is not moving her, and that she doesn’t answer “why” questions. She has told the parties they can leave the courtroom, she was dismissing the case. And then she calls them back for one thing. She asks the defendant if she was suing her former employer. She said she was. Judy then awarded the Plaintiff $5,000. It’s very obvious: Judge Judy believed that the defendant was lying — and the defendant’s claim was that “there was no proof.” (There was, maybe, evidence, but that’s unclear. There was an interpersonal background of conflict that made the plaintiff’s claim plausible.) If the defendant was not lying, this would come out in the lawsuit in progress, and she would be more than compensated. It also made for splendid TV, a totally surprising ending to a segment.
(In Rossi v. Darden, observe in the pleadings how many times the Plaintiff asserts “they have no proof.” When the Defendant is presenting evidence — not “proof” — this argument, if presented at trial, will sway the jury toward the Defense. The Plaintiff will attempt to confuse the jury with irrelevant facts — or worse than that, probably perjured testimony).
(In this case, Judy found it unbelievable that the defendant had injured herself without being pushed. However, it’s quite easy in hot confrontations for someone to move rapidly and not carefully, and hurt themselves, and the person may even believe they were pushed. I know of a case where that may have been fact, personally. As well, a defensive push can be stronger than intended, etc. And it may be impossible to determine the truth except through other witnesses, and even then they may not see everything. Judy is looking for fundamental equity, as well as urging, practically demanding, that people take responsibility for their own lives. The plaintiff’s circumstantial argument was actually reasonable. Who had called the police? The office where they worked, not the alleged victim, and had there been an assault, or claim of assault, some report would have mentioned that, even if charges were not filed. The plaintiff was wrong that she would necessarily have been arrested. We make up defective arguments for why we are right! Disempowering habit.)
There are people who have developed habits of either lying or excusing personal behavior, there is always an “explanation.” We learn to do this as children, and it obviously worked at some point, or the behavior would not have continued. Before a jury, if the defendant is “defensive,” avoids admitting obvious fact, or attempts to explain it when testifying, they look really bad. Even if what they were saying, attempting to defend themselves, was true! Early in Mrs. Doubtfire the father, in a custody hearing, obviously doesn’t want to simply admit the truth. I forget what the question was. It led to an adverse decision, though the effect of that was temporary if the father got it together. Great movie. Reading the Wikipedia article, I teared up. I’ve been through divorces and custody disputes — and through their resolution with demonstrated love, as Doubtfire stands for.
Will these obfuscational strategies work to endear Rossi to the jury? We still are not 100% sure that there will be a trial, there are some remaining issues, but … what was effective to avoid Summary Judgment may be quite the opposite at trial.
My sense is that Judge Judy would have thrown Rossi out of court, rapidly. Even if the case survived until evidence was clear for fraudulent representation over the customer, she’d have seen Rossi’s evasive demeanor, his “caginess,” and from that point on, nothing he said would be credible unless clearly proven by evidence, not merely made plausible.
The task of Jones Day in a trial will be to create clarity. I have read thousands of pages of documents. The jury is not going to do that. I do not think the Judge did that in dismissing the Motions for Summary Judgment.
Now, a note for some non-U.S. readers. Some countries have an “inquisitorial system.” Judge Judy is inquisitorial. She takes an active role, rather than a passive one, a “neutral mediator,” whose job is to insure fair process in compliance with law. This is an adversarial system. The Wikipedia article on the latter seems poor, but I’m not going further with that. It’s clear that some of those commenting on this case imagine that Judge Altonaga might require this or demand that (such as demanding an actual test of the 1 MW unit). That’s not going to happen. Even Judge Judy would probably not go that far.
In the U.S., some judicial process is inquisitorial. Small claims court may be so (hence Judge Judy’s cases, taken from small claims filings, might actually be judged in this way). As well, some findings in regular civil court are made by judges. The Magistrate hears evidence and argument and makes decisions, and as part of this process, may ask questions. It’s not prominent. But Magistrate O’Sullivan makes Judge-Judy-like comments, though milder. And so does Altonaga. But they are not going to dominate the proceedings, interrogating witnesses as Judge Judy does. That is the job of the attorneys. The judges just make sure that this process follows law and rules of evidence and procedure — if any party objects, not normally on their own initiative.
Some have faulted Judge Judy for misrepresenting how judges function. Her show is made to look like a real court, but it is actually binding arbitration, where the parties have agreed to accept her decisions.
Sometimes, it’s easy to say, that’s “moronic.” However, because they agree to what may amount to public humiliation, the only “punishment” that she actually metes out, if they have a losing case, they come out ahead. The show pays the judgments, plus the parties get paid enough to cover expenses and then a little. On the other hand, in the case of the allegedly faux handbags, in addition to ordering the refund of what the plaintiff had paid, she made that award conditional on the plaintiff filing a police report for grand larceny. She spells it out for the defendant. “Grand,” not “petty.” He is not impressed. Idiot. Felony, in California, and she is not going to figure out who was the actual criminal, it could be the young man, or it could be his mother, or it could be both of them together, or the plaintiff could by lying and would end up in hot water herself.
How did she show the bag was a fake knock-off? The plaintiff brought an expert witness. Judge Judy asked detailed questions and observed how the witness answered, and also inferred something: if the bag was genuine, it was worth much more than the $3,000 that the plaintiff had paid. She wouldn’t want to give it up for a return of her money, and she wouldn’t hire an expert, whose business was assessing the value of designer items sold on the internet, and all for what? And if the Judge was wrong, there was no major harm done by ordering return for refund. And, effectively, ordering a police report be made to collect the $3,000.
If the bag was genuine, the defendant could sell it to someone else. In ordinary life, he was an idiot. Allegedly his mother had two more such bags. So he could sell one and then buy the first bag back, assuming she returned the bag in good condition. And if the bags were actually fake, he’d be in deep trouble. Did he ask an expert? Or was he just relying on his mother? Yes, it’s understandable, but such reliance could get a person doing time. Cracker-jack excuse, though: My Mother!!! Let her do time, the lying bitch! (Watching Judge Judy does not increase my faith in humanity, I need to look elsewhere for that, and I do.)
What is clearly visible on Judge Judy is people who are quite unwilling to take responsibility, who instead focus on the errors (real or alleged) of others. A grandfather, he and the grandmother suing the father of their grandson for a decision he made about his child that led to an airline ticket they have purchased for a vacation with the grandchild ($400, as I recall), is obviously so obsessed by wanting to tell his side of the story that he clearly doesn’t get what the Judge is saying: that they were crazy to sue the father of their grandson because he allegedly did something wrong, thus placing the entire relationship at risk, for $400, based on completely erroneous legal reasoning. He says “May I say something?” She yells at him “No! Put on your listening ears!” It’s really easy, what she does, once one learns to recognize obsession, once one learns to recognize the underlying causes of disputes like these. People who become obsessed by their own rightness. I used to say it this way: “I’m so right I make myself sick!”
Judy cuts to the essence, at least in many cases, and that is, I suspect, why she has been so popular for so long.
If Rossi has a real technology, filing that lawsuit before actually moving the technology to market was idiotic. Judge Judy would have no difficulty with this case, except for one problem: consequential damages. That’s much tougher. However, at least some of the fraudulent representation claims are quite clear as to Rossi and reasonably clear that JMP would be responsible for what Rossi did, thus allowing penetrating the corporate veil, so Johnson is in trouble as well, no matter what his agreement with JMP says.
And Judge Judy would be whispering — or yelling — “Perjury, you idiot!” It’s the cover-up, stupid!