Dear PoPville – Has anyone ever been recruited for a “judge show?”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

Dear PoPville,

A couple of weeks ago I filed a claim in DC Small Claims court. (A last-resort effort to have my next-door neighbor pay my emergency vet bill after she put food-baited rat poison in my yard.) Yesterday I received a letter from the “Judge Mathis” show (based in Chicago) recruiting us to be on the show! The letter said – “While looking through public records, our researcher came across the lawsuit you recently filed.”

I’ve never watched any of the judge shows, though of course have some idea of them, but never thought about people combing through public records searching for cases! I think I would rather be buried alive in guano than go on TV – especially with my screaming-crazy neighbor – but part of me also thinks it would make an interesting story. Also, there is the whole free trip to Chicago. . .

So any thoughts? The actual money judgement is pretty minor – I sued primarily because she still insists she did nothing wrong and I can’t risk having her do something like that again.

38 Comment

  • Yeah, when I was in college years ago, there were occasionally job postings in the campus paper looking for kids to go through small claims court records looking for cases.

    My understanding (which is fairly slim) is that in signing up for these shows you are agreeing to binding arbitration.

  • In general, these shows don’t (can’t) issue any sort of actual judicial ruling. Both parties sign contracts agreeing to settle their suit according to the “ruling” issued by the judge. The end result: often both parties get money for participating in the show. The “winning” party may get more. As far as assigning guilt or any sort of restraining order or legal repentant … not so much.

    • Actually I think Hello Goodbye has it right. The show could be set up as a binding arbitration which would be enforceable in court.

    • Having your case in her court or any court is the same, you can google court cases anywhere in any state and find out the outcome, or go to tat counties court site. It is a legal and binding ruling, and even goes on the losing parties credit report! These cases are real, I should know, my show will air Nov. 20, 2012, the producers did NOT lead me to say anything false, they looked over my paperwork, and my police reports and pictures of injuries, and told me which ones I should use, they even told me to interrupt the Judge if the other party was lying about the situation, but I did not interrupt, because I felt good about how my case was going, so I let him stand there and lie.

  • I wouldn’t sue her in small claims court, I would do something much worse (and probably illegal) to her.

  • Do you really want this to be one of the first things that pop on Google when future employers/clients/etc look up your name? I don’t want my dirty laundry aired on national TV just for a free trip to Chi-town and probably an extra couple hundred bucks. It makes you seem as if you’re attention-needy and money hungry.

  • The neighbor would also have to agree to appear on the show, right?

    I’d say it depends what your desired outcome is. Frankly, the neighbor sounds like she’s in such deep denial that I’m not sure anything is going to convince her that she did anything wrong. With that being the case, I’m not sure if it’s worth having to appear on TV when you don’t want to do so *unless* you think that the TV factor might get things through her head better than small-claims court would.

    • Hmm, I feel like appearing on a TV show would somehow undermine the fact that you are very serious about this claim. If you want your neighbor to take you seriously, I suggest not following this route.

      • On the other hand, if you don’t have a very strong case under the law, you might get a better result going into arbitration because of the “shock value” of your case. I would get some kind of opinion on whether you could actually win in small claims court, and if the odds are against you, arbitration might be a good bet.

      • I was VERY serious about my case, and it was a GREAT way to let others know what a violent man my ex is!! Now the whole world knows!

        • what was the outcome of the exposure of his violence? did people see it? did they believe it? were there repercussions for him?

          • My show airs tomorrow, Tues Nov 20th.
            The repercussions for someone being sued on Judge Judy and losing is it will be on his credit report.
            I have not seen the show yet, but yes I do believe it will show his violent behavior, and it will show him lying!

  • I say do it, but only if you wear a PoP t-shirt… 😉

  • Watch the Judge Mathis show before you agree. He spends most of his time saying silly (and sometimes demeaning) things to his litigants. Generally the cases look more like what you would see on a Jerry Springer type show. I “love” the court shows but refuse to watch Judge Mathis, because he seems to be the least “legal” of all of them. I would agree to be on People’s Court or Judge Judy, but you need to watch to decide what you want.

    • ditto. If you have a serious claim, don’t turn it into anyone’s entertainment. if you have doubts about your claim (ie – it’s not clear the bait was in your yard, etc), hell, it could be fun and the sympathy factor is probably more in your favor in arbitration.

    • Seconded! I would go on Judge Judy, personally. Free trip to LA for you and your witnesses, it sounds like you have a strong case, and she loves dogs and hates people who are negligent in regards to dogs.

      • I would never go on Judge Judy! She’s so unstable. It’s hard to know what is going to set her off and make her rule against you!

  • I say do it, but only if you wear a tee-shirt that is two sizes two small and shout at your neighbor in bad English.

    I’m kidding of course. I can’t speak about judge shows, but I do know that many of these daytime shows do whatever they can to work the guests into a frenzy. I had some friends years ago who cooked up a fictitious love triangle involving a transexual (M to F) torn between a woman and a man. They got themselves on Jerry Springer because they thought it would be fun. It was not. The staff managed to get them all hating each other before the show started, to add to the fireworks. Maybe a judge show would be different.

  • Have some class, and just say “pass”.

    Anyone, and I mean anyone who appears on those shows is just advertising to the nation they have zero self respect and no class, and as someone above mentioned, it will be on the internet until our sun supernovas in 4 billion years.

    • OP here – did you read the part where I mentioned I’d rather be buried in guano than go on this show? But that I thought it could be an interesting story and was curious about how the whole thing worked? I appreciate the informed replies.

  • The judge shows have been combing small claims court dockets for years for this kind of thing. In the late ’90s, I worked in consumer frauds mediation for the state of New York, and had a few cases who contacted me to ask for advice about appearing on a judge show (I did not give any advice, as it was outside the scope of our paralegal role). I’m a private person, so I would not, under any circumstances, want to be on TV–plus, you lose all control over how you’re portrayed, and you know the producers are gunning for maximum drama. Are you seeking any kind of injunction beyond the money? Can you do that via small claims? (I think NYS small claims was only monetary claims under $3,000–at the time–but I’m not familiar with DC courts)

  • Awesome! Please do it and then let us know when it’ll air.

  • I sued an old roommate a couple years back and got a letter from Judge Judy 🙂 they were going to pay for me to fly to Cali, and guaranteed me the money I was seeking. Alas, she paid after getting served.

  • My co-worker went on Judge Judy several years ago and it’s not on Google. It’s not even on youtube. The only reason I know about it is because she told me. No one would have ever guessed. JJ ruled in her favor.

  • I’m going to throw out a guess here but I’m not sure LW would win. From the letter, I’m not totally convinced that LW is in the right and neighbor is in the wrong. The letter sounds one-sided (obviously) and pretty slanted to illustrate favor to LW. How do you know neighbor put food-baited rat poison in your yard intentionally? How do you not know for sure that another animal or pest didn’t track or carry it into your yard from your neighbor’s yard? I don’t know how you approached your neighbor but your neighbor could be reacting to an unreasonable rant from you and you may not know for sure that your neighbor put the food-baited rat poison in your yard intentionally. If I am wrong about my questions and you do know for sure that your neighbor did on purpose and is being unreasonable, my apologies. Just trying to see the whole picture before casting aspersions.

    As for appearing on court tv, why would you want to do that? Another poster made an excellent point, do you really want that to be one of the things a prospective employer finds when s/he googles you?

    • Are you the neighbor?

      • No, I am not the neighbor. I am a person that doesn’t want to make judgements before understanding the entire story, all sides. There is just too much info missing and it’s only one of the sides, so I’m asking questions.

  • Your neighbor ia a criminal. Don’t do anything to gain her fame or money.

  • I have been recruited! My show will air Nov 20th, 2012. It is worth it, especially if you really think you are going to win. They put you in a very nice hotel, we stayed at the Sheraton Downtown LA, give you and your witnesses each $75 for food or whatever, I asked that me and my witnesses be flown at the earliest date and time possible and to be flown home the latest flight possible, to give us more time there! We did mostly free or very cheap things, after all it was a FREE trip, and so we decided to be frugal and not spend a heap on money! The taping goes VERY fast! As soon as you are done taping you are ushered out and your taxi is waiting for you.
    Oh i just noticed you said free trip to Chicago…it is flimed in Los Angelas

    • Allison

      As I recall, the OP on this thread already posted (perhaps in a Rant/Revel) later that they went to court here and did not win because there wasn’t enough proof.

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