by the Forward

Judy Sheindlin

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Judge Judy Still Tops After 20 Years

Born Judith Susan Blum and known to the world as Judge Judy, Judith Sheindlin is an icon. Her television courtroom show, where she dispenses tough love with no nonsense, has made her ubiquitous and wealthy.

2016 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Emmy-Award winning show’s premiere. In that time it has reached top spot for daytime viewing, even becoming, by 2013, the highest-rated program in syndication.

In an era when the justice system is afflicted by long wait times and questions about its integrity, Judge Judy manages to be an aspirational figure — an emblem for the fair and speedy trials we hope for.

A Brooklyn native, Sheindlin, 74, went to American University and New York Law School. Entering the bar as one of few female attorneys, she initially earned notice as a prosecutor on abuse cases. In the 1980s, New York City Mayor Ed Koch appointed her to the bench, and she subsequently became the supervising judge in Manhattan’s Family Court, where she settled thorny family issues until her retirement in 1996. Before Sheindlin left public service, she began to attract media attention for her tough attitude and ideas about the criminal justice system, soon publishing a memoir that led to a television deal.

The 21st season of “Judge Judy” premiered on CBS in September, and Sheindlin is signed to wear her lace-collared robe for at least the next four years. It’s a lucrative gig, earning her $47 million a season for only 52 days of taping.

At a time when so much is changing, at least there’s Judge Judy — righting the world 30 minutes at a time.

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