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Larry King Live

Judge Judy Lays Down the Law

Aired February 18, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, she's laying down the law. Her Honor Judge Judy for the full hour. We'll take your calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's always great to welcome Judge Judy to LARRY KING LIVE. She has the highest-rated daytime syndicated show on television, consistently leading in every -- whenever they play her and what time period, she wins. And she leads in total numbers as well. It's the fastest-growing first-run series in all of the '90s.

Congratulations on all that, but who'd have thunk it?


KING: Not you. You never -- nobody would have.


KING: Judy has a new book out. We're going to talk a little about that and then so many other subjects to cover tonight. The book is a children's book and it's called "Win or Lose by How You Choose" -- there you see its cover -- just published by Cliff Street Books, which is an imprint of Harper Collins. And the unusual idea in this book -- and we can turn to just one page and show -- there are drawings, and a condition is presented: "A boy in your class just walked out of the bathroom with his fly open. What should you do?" And then it gives you multiple choice.

How did you get this idea?

SHEINDLIN: Well, it came to me about three years ago when we were having some terrible things happening in this country with kids -- the of those terrible things -- that kids make choices from the first time they draw breath. Babies make the choice whether to cry or not because they get some attention. And it seemed to me that the earlier you got a child involved in building the right kind of character, moral value, kindness, honesty, the better off we were as parents.

And then I knew from my own experience as a parent that it was hard to engage a child and talk to them about being kind. How -- you know, you'd start to tell an 8- or 9-year-old who wants to go out and play, let's have a discussion about being kind, and you get one big yawn. KING: Works and plays well with others.

SHEINDLIN: Right. So I said, let's make it sort of a game. I will create little scenarios and make them interesting for the kids to get involved with and talk to their parents about, like a game. And some of the answers are funny and the kids will get a kick out of it and it won't bore the parents. That was the genesis of it, to engage your children for 15 minutes a day.

KING: For what age group?

SHEINDLIN: Eight to 12. I mean, some of these things are good for people who are 45...

KING: Forty-five.

SHEINDLIN: ... 45 and 50.

KING: Let's take the fly answer. "A boy in your class just walked out of the bathroom with his fly open. You should: A) go over and whisper in his ear so that he knows; B) yell to him across the room that his fly is open; C) Introduce him to some girls who are walking by; or D) suggest that now would be a good time to get up in front of the class to speak."

Very funny, the obvious go whisper, right? Tell him.

SHEINDLIN: Right, right.

KING: You make it funny, but you also give the child this choice factor of what...

SHEINDLIN: You can give them the choice factor because then there are all kinds of -- you know, there are interesting twists on that. What if you're a girl and you see a boy with his fly open? And that's something a parent would say, what would you do? Well, you might go and try to find a boy to go over and tell him, whisper to a boy. Because I know it's happened to me. I've been with adult men who've gone -- you know, business people -- they'd go into the washroom, they'd wash, et cetera, and they come out and their fly is open.

KING: Is one of the answers also say nothing or don't get involved?

SHEINDLIN: Well, I wouldn't do that because that's unkind. You see, because...

KING: That's right. You're not doing him a favor.

SHEINDLIN: You're not doing him a favor. And you see it, which means everyone else sees it and everybody's going to be snickering. So kindness is something you can teach your child through the use of this kind of scenario.

KING: You had fun doing this? SHEINDLIN: I had a ball doing it. And I had a grandson who helped me with it and some of his friends, because I would call my daughter in the morning in Massachusetts, and I would say, Jamie, do me a favor. Give me the worst thing he did yesterday. Right? And let's see if we could make a page out of it. So it was a wonderful experience. And I think it's a book that could be used in schools and it can be used as bedtime fare.

KING: Good illustrations by Bob Tore.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, Bob Tore. He's a wonderful talented guy.

KING: Judge Judy Sheindlin's "Win or Lose by How You Choose." We'll talk about it a little more later as well. It's a great book and it's out everywhere.

Let's -- there's so much to get into.

First, I want to ask you about what do you make of judge heaven? There are more judge shows than quiz shows: "The People's Court," "Judge Judy" -- your husband does "The People's Court" -- "Judge Brown," "Judge Lane," "Judge Mathis," "Judge Hatchet" is coming, five more shows planned this fall -- "Divorce Court" -- why? "Animal Court."

SHEINDLIN: I think that the law is something that everybody can relate to because the law has touched everybody, whether you're buying a house, buying a car, whether you have had your car broke into, whether you've been the subject of a burglary, a robbery. And everybody has had a touch and a feel of the law. And everybody has an opinion about the law. You can't have a discussion over a dinner table about retinal surgery, because you can't become an expert in that. But everybody has a sense of whether we're doing the right thing in our justice system, whether we're too tough, we're too soft, whether we're coddling prisoners, whether we're not giving them the second and third chance that some people think that they should have. So it's the kind of thing that people can relate to.

KING: And you're also seeing real human beings in real circumstances, right?

SHEINDLIN: You're seeing real human beings and you're also seeing situations, situations that you can relate to, you know? If you have an argument with your next-door neighbor because the 7-year- old scratched your car, that's something that's happened to everybody. The fence is across the line, and they cut some branches off the tree, or the situations where you have mothers and fathers fighting over objects and involving their children. I mean, these are the kinds of things I involve myself in.

KING: Is a lot of it boring to you?

SHEINDLIN: No, it isn't.

KING: Excuse me.

SHEINDLIN: And I wondered about that, because when I left the family court I was dealing with such vital issues.

KING: Children's lives.

SHEINDLIN: Children's lives. But I did that for a lot of years, you know? Twenty-plus years. And it was emotionally taxing for me, because you can't make a major difference in most of the people unfortunately in the family court because their pathology is too ingrained. Sometimes you can, which kept me going, so I really loved it. But when I left, it was like taking off a pair of tight shoes. I said, I don't have to wake up in the morning and look in the paper and see if a baby that I returned to a mother who promised she wasn't going to use drugs anymore was found floating in the river.

KING: The way we see you, is that the way you were in family court?


KING: Were you that harsh and tough and -- because you are -- I mean, that show is distinctly you. You realize that.

SHEINDLIN: I didn't do anything to change the way I do business. You know...

KING: So you were that way?

SHEINDLIN: When people lie to me in court, when people came in and I said to them, are you clean? Can I give you visitation with your children unsupervised? And a mother or a father would say, yes, I haven't used drugs, you know, in six months. And I would say to them, fine. I'm sending you for a drug test today, right now. I'm going to have an officer escort you over to the center. You're going to give a little in a cup, and we'll see. Well, all kinds of excuses. I can't go today, I'll go tomorrow. I have a hairdresser's appointment. I have to go see my banker -- every excuse under the sun. And that would frustrate me.

KING: Did you get a lot of lawyer complaints, though, about that kind of thing? Because that is a little showbiz.

SHEINDLIN: Oh, did they complain? Did they complain?

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: Yes. Ultimately, what I wanted to do was the right thing for the children that appeared before -- that not only appeared before me...

KING: They're your responsibility, right?

SHEINDLIN: ... but didn't have a voice. You know, a baby doesn't have a voice. A 2-year-old or a 3-year-old doesn't have a voice. And to be quite honest with you, I wasn't interested in the finer points of due process when I was dealing with, you know, somebody who could cause damage to that child.

KING: Our guest is Judge Judy. We don't have to tell you who she is. We'll be taking your calls later. Lots to talk about.

We'll be back after this.


SHEINDLIN: What caused you to terminate your apprenticeships?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had to pierce some of our friends or, like, relatives to practice piercing on people.

SHEINDLIN: And you certainly don't bring your friends in to practice on -- bring your friends and family like we're having a bake- off. Bring your genitals, we're going to practice on you. I never heard anything so stupid in my life.


KING: OK, she was on a couple of weeks ago on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," got headlines in "The New York Post," where else: "Judy Gives Hill Hell," and she really took off on Hillary Clinton, slammed her candidacy for the Senate, said it's a shame that a state the size of New York with so many talented people as there are here has to go outside. "Rudy Giuliani is a great mayor. I think he took New York and turned it around. I don't know what Hillary's done," and a continuum of things.

Why are you called upon to discuss politics as...

SHEINDLIN: Well, the truth of the matter is, I don't know why, except that I live in New York State, and Jay asked me a question.

KING: And knowing you, you're going to answer.

SHEINDLIN: And I've seen a lot of people, celebrity-type people, ask questions and they wisely waffle around. I wasn't ever a very good waffler. I don't have an opinion on everything, but I do have an opinion on this. And it's not that I don't believe that Hillary Clinton is a wonderfully poised, smart lawyer. I think that she's graceful. I think that she probably understands the machinations of that business in Washington.

My problem was -- you know, they will always make it a headline that sounds, I think, far worse than what I said -- was that I always believed that in a business and, whether it's government or anything else, court, IBM, if you have an opportunity to promote someone, someone is a, you know, a supervisor left, the chief judge left, the administrative judge left, to me, it's really a moral kick in the behind if you go outside the system to fill that vacancy when you have talented people within the system to do it.

KING: Companies do it. Police departments do it.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, they do.

KING: Fire departments do it. SHEINDLIN: And I think that it's demoralizing. I do. I think that it's demoralizing. It's demoralizing. If you don't have any talent within your system, then you go out and do it. But we have talent in New York.

KING: But why rap her? All she's doing is doing what the law allows. You can move in and run.

SHEINDLIN: I am just giving my opinion as to why not. Why not? And then again, I think then if Hillary Rodham from Arkansas decided to move to New York to Chappaqua and run for the Senate, nobody would vote for her, but she is the first lady, and she has a name and a name recognition, and I want something more. I want somebody who intimately knows what New York is about, somebody who sounds like New York, somebody who has established themselves as being able to do things, you know. Hillary was wonderful behind the scenes I believe in the seven years or so that she's been in Washington, but being up front and being able to accomplish something, and saying, I made this cabinet, you know, I finished off this kitchen, Rudy Giuliani -- and believe me, I've never endorsed him. Somebody asked me what I thought of him, and I am telling you, I never even got a thank you call for that. But I didn't, nor did I expect it, quite frankly.

KING: On reflection, though, should a television personality -- and you've become that, who is a judge, give political opinions -- I am talking about logically now? Your PR person now would probably say, you don't help yourself with this.

SHEINDLIN: My PR person would say absolutely not. And I think that some television personalities and some entertainment personalities will embrace a candidate. They have embraced Bill Clinton over the last seven years, and I don't think to their detriment. I think the problem arises when you embrace somebody that -- and I'm not embracing Rudy Giuliani. I mean, I don't particularly think that he's the kind of guy that we would go on vacation with. That's not the point. The point is, I think he's been a terrific mayor.

KING: Have you take and little flack for it?


KING: Yes, have people stopped you on the street or...

SHEINDLIN: Oh, no. I think that people would be disappointed in me, Larry, if someone asked me a direct question and I didn't give them a direct answer. And it's not something that I have weighed. It's just something that I believe. I believe that people are used the hearing directness from me, and I think if someone asks my opinion, and if I have one, and if I don't give it, I am not being honest to myself.

KING: Are you looking forward to the race or not?

SHEINDLIN: Not particularly. Not particularly. KING: All right. Now let's discuss some other things major in the news. What do you make of the Louima case? They're allowing now testimony, right, that can...

SHEINDLIN: I think...

KING: I mean, they're allowing now you can have lesser -- it could be second degree. It could be...

SHEINDLIN: Oh, you mean, Amadou Diallo.

KING: Diallo, excuse me.

SHEINDLIN: The Diallo case, because Louima is also being tried separately. Amadou Diallo -- I think that that is probably one of the worst tragedies that has befallen the city.

KING: A man shot that many times with no gun.

SHEINDLIN: Right, right, a man who was clearly a working man, a man who had no history, a man...

KING: Apparently confused, right?

SHEINDLIN: And who wouldn't be confused, you know. I think these guys were in plain clothes. I don't know if they were if in uniform. Somebody tells them to stop, I don't know what I would try to do. I would try to get into the vestibule of my home as quickly as I could. So that tragedy will -- that will always be a blight on the police department. And one of the things that I think about it is, you know, I think that you have to raise the criteria for being a police officer, and you have to do more than just apply and be able to do 30 push-ups.

KING: Held to a higher...

SHEINDLIN: Absolutely. I would like to see a situation where we pay cops more, but said each one of you has to have a four-year college education with emphasis in psychology, you have to take a test which includes not only ABCs, but what you do under certain situations. And perhaps if you raised that bar, you'll get a different kind of person who is applying to be a police officer. I am not suggesting to you -- I really can't believe in my heart that these guys are maniacal monsters.

KING: Something happened.

SHEINDLIN: Something happened, but it happened because they weren't ready. They hadn't been properly trained, and they weren't ready.

KING: Think they're getting a fair trial in Albany.

SHEINDLIN: From what I see, they are getting a fair trial. No nonsense, no baloney, not a lot of fanfare, and it's proceeding very quickly. KING: I'll ask about the other one, which I mixed up the names, and also about Los Angeles, too, which is police lying. What do we do about that? What does a judge do?

We'll be right back with Judge Judy.

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She came up to my house, and she wanted to talk. I said, no, I don't want to talk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I realized our relationship was done and over with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She took her keys, she scratched the side of the truck.

SHEINDLIN: You damaged the truck Miss Padia (ph). Miss Padia, you damaged the truck -- put your hand down. Does it look like your losing?




KING: Then we have the Louima case. The cops sodomized -- now their argument, who was there, who wasn't there? Cops comes out to testify. And I'll lump this with police in an area in Los Angeles, lying, getting convictions that's going to be overturned. It's going to cost the public a fortune, people in jail who shouldn't be in a jail. As a judge, it must shock you a little?

SHEINDLIN: Shocks you a lot. You know, judges are supposed to be able to rely on the testimony of a police officer. And, quite honestly, everybody knows that police officers will sometimes tailor their testimony to fit in the four corners of what the law is, you know, in search and seizure situations and that sort of stuff. And everybody knows that they do it, and you try to ferret it out, because we're supposed to try to find things based upon the truth. We again come down to what kind of cops are we hiring? You know, when you have a police force of -- I don't know -- 20,000 people, and if you have a thousand of them that are bad, that's 1/20 -- that's too many. That's too many opportunities to do wrong.

KING: What does a judge do now, tomorrow, in a criminal case, as a cop testifies one on one, this is what I saw, and the defendant says, that didn't happen?

SHEINDLIN: You've got to be -- well...

KING: Solomon. SHEINDLIN: You've got to be Solomon. If you're doing a judge trial without a jury, you have to be a Solomon. And if you're doing a jury trial, then you have to hope that 12 people are not snoozing, listening very carefully and using their common sense. If something that somebody is saying to you doesn't make sense, it is my experience that it's usually not true. Aberrational behavior happens all the time, but if you're going to tell me a story that I find hard to believe because it doesn't fit what people would normally do, you know, husband and wife -- acrimonious divorce, he comes home and finds all of his clothes bleached with Clorox. She says the dog bleached the clothes, got a hold of a bottle of Clorox and it just happened, does that make sense to you?


SHEINDLIN: I've had dogs -- doesn't make sense. So if it doesn't make sense to you, you're supposed to reject it, whether it's a cop or a convicted felon. You know, I mean, ridiculous things happen in the law all the time. Do you remember in Los Angeles that terrible bank shoot-out that they had? Do you remember seeing the video of these bank robbers with these nine millimeter, you know, machine guns spraying bullets all over downtown Los Angeles. I was working that day. I heard the bullets.

All right, the cops killed one of the robbers. Now the family of that man is suing the city of Los Angeles and the police department because they say that they didn't get his son or husband help fast enough which caused him to die. There you go. In Los Angeles, you never know what's going to happen.

KING: By the way, are you going to continue to tape out there? Why don't you bring your show back here and make it easier for your life?

SHEINDLIN: I sort of -- I...

KING: You're big enough now. Maury says he's going to do it if the show stays.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, I don't know. You know, there are so many people attached -- really, seriously -- there are so many people attached to my program who I rely on...


SHEINDLIN: ... they live out there. They have young children, they have homes, they have family. It's easier for one person to make that trip every other week or so than it is to uproot those people and say, come here.

KING: You've got a soft heart, Judy.


KING: Judge Judy's the guest. We're going to talk about Elian Gonzalez, we're going to talk about capital punishment and DNA. Take your calls later, too.

Don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: You were out on a date with someone by the name of Angie. Angie, what time did that evening end?


SHEINDLIN: Did you have anything to drink?


SHEINDLIN: When was the last time you drank milk?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This morning for breakfast.

SHEINDLIN: Maybe with kahlua.



KING: Little Elian Gonzalez continues to live with relatives in Miami. There's going to be some sort of hearing I guess next week, a government -- jurisdictional issue case. What do you make of all of this?

SHEINDLIN: Quite frankly, I am absolutely befuddled from a legal perspective. You know, my training in the family court, the right of parents, biological parents, to raise their children unless there was a showing that they were abusive or habitually neglectful of their children was sacrosanct. I mean, we let parents abuse their kids. We gave them another chance. We let them neglect their kids over a period of three, four years, do drugs, do things. We still gave them another chance. What I don't understand is how we could make an exception to what is such a fundamental American right, which is the ability to rear your own children in this case.

And one thing that puzzles me: It's my understanding -- and I don't have all the facts -- but it's my understanding that the father, who is in Cuba, never any suggestion that he was neglectful, never any suggestion he was abusive. There has been ample evidence that he was intimately involved with the child's life.

KING: He had the kid five days a week.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, intimately involved. A) Where does a parent -- husband, wife, former husband, former wife -- get the nerve to take a child away from a biological parent without so much as a by your leave and take off with a boyfriend, placing a child in a precarious situation, to a new life where they know he'll never again see his father? There's a good chance he'll never again see his father. That's outrageous. You have a baby -- come on, I'll throw it out to you -- if your wife came from a country where we had no connection... KING: Berserk.

SHEINDLIN: ... and she's -- you woke up one morning, everything was fine. You come home from doing this taping and you find...

KING: Live -- we're live, Judy. You know that.

SHEINDLIN: Yes -- and you find that it's gone. Baby's gone, wife's gone, she's decided to go back to wherever. Would you be crazed?

KING: Crazed.

SHEINDLIN: Absolutely.

KING: Well that's one thing, saying, why doesn't he come over?

SHEINDLIN: Well, he shouldn't have to come over. He shouldn't have to come over.

KING: The law's on his side.

SHEINDLIN: The law is on his side. He shouldn't have to come over and fight for his child.

KING: Just political, right?

SHEINDLIN: And my next observation is if he had taken his son on that perilous journey, leaving a crying mother in Cuba, I feel in the pit of my stomach that that little boy would have been home with his mother two months ago. Because I somehow feel that somewhere in someone's thinking fathers are disposable, because that's the way we're treating this man. He was an involved father five days a week. How could he not be returned? If it was a mother, that child would have been home with her.

KING: There's an article in yesterday's "New York Daily News" about DNA, a national DNA database -- they're doing it in Britain. Ordinary citizens volunteer, give samples, et cetera to help them in the future. What do you think of it?

SHEINDLIN: I think it's a great idea. And I know that...

KING: I mean, it's here, It's...

SHEINDLIN: It's here. And the reason that we're lagging behind in the United States is because of organizations, ACLU, et cetera, et cetera, everybody's very worried that, you know, they'll use this data for other things other than just the apprehension of criminals. But if somebody came to me and said to me, listen, we'd like to be able to test you and each of your children as they're born, we'd like to take a blood sample from them so we can do a data profile on them, just like a fingerprint, a footprint or anything else, I'd say, sure, absolutely. I have nothing to hide. Would I hope that it wouldn't be abused, that it wouldn't -- you know, I mean, certainly you're not going to get a lot of that sordid mail because they've got your DNA. You know, you get that because of your bank card.

I would like to feel that the police, good police, can quickly apprehend violent criminals...

KING: Excuse me.

SHEINDLIN: ... and the recidivism rate in this country is 40 or 50 percent. So you know that there is a very small number of population who are committing the vast majority of crime compared to the whole population. And if there was a DNA databank, they would be able to apprehend rapists more quickly and murderers more quickly, and they can even -- they can even do, you know, with hair and with gloves and with -- even with eyeglass. They have such sophisticated machines now they can do it.

KING: I know. Speaking of that, because of that, people are coming off death row. And we'll ask about capital punishment with Judge Judy. We'll be taking your calls in a little while.

And her new book is out, Judy Sheindlin's "Win or Lose by How You Choose."

We'll be right back.


SHEINDLIN: Those are big dogs.


SHEINDLIN: So how did you try to get them into the backyard?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was whistling at them, and the dogs got me down at that point, and of them grabbed my shirt and ripped it off. And then the female grabbed my right arm and dragged me across the street and up the curb.

SHEINDLIN: Literally dragged you?


SHEINDLIN: By your arm?


SHEINDLIN: Then what happened, Carl (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then he flinged me around like a doll.

SHEINDLIN: How were the dogs finally removed from you?


SHEINDLIN: You want a minute?


KING: Next week on LARRY KING LIVE, Burt Reynolds will be among the guests, John Tesh. Jeff Greenfield will be hosting a show with Don Imus. Lots of political coverage with primaries on Tuesday night in Michigan and Arizona.

Don't forget: CNN complete coverage tomorrow night of the South Carolina primary.

The governor and the president praised him the other day, and the president is a proponent of capital punishment, as are you. The governor in Illinois has stopped it all because of the inconsistency. Apparently 13 people have been executed in Illinois. Another 13 have been released who didn't do the crime. Something's wrong.

What do you make of this?

SHEINDLIN: I think that you have to be almost absolutely sure, not beyond a reasonable doubt, before you execute someone, which is the ultimate price that someone can pay in our system. You have to feel really secure, which is why when they talk about using DNA evidence and allowing condemned prisoners, even if they have totally exhausted all of their appellate review, an opportunity to be DNA- tested, if that, you know, if they still have samples, et cetera, which they should have, I'm in favor of that: because I think that not only will it make those people who are -- who are in favor of -- I don't think anybody is in favor of the death penalty.

I feel as if it's a rule of law that we have, and that if -- if it makes the victims -- the family of the victim feel more comfortable that the person who killed their children, their parents, their mates, serial killers weren't breathing air anymore, that's a good enough reason for me to execute...

KING: Only if you have the right person.

SHEINDLIN: ... as long as you have the right person.

KING: But when you have the wrong person you can't redress that grievance?

SHEINDLIN: Absolutely right, which is why I think that the -- this new wave of thinking and introducing DNA evidence even after all appellate review has been exhausted, which, in effect, is really saying we're going to reopen this trial, because there isn't a governor or a chief executive that would say, well, the DNA doesn't match but we're going to execute him anyway. I mean, that would be ludicrous.

I certainly would feel more comfortable. I do believe, however, that most of the people who are on death row are guilty. I think that that's true. Many, many are released...

KING: So you think the Illinois statistics are just an anomaly? SHEINDLIN: I don't think they were released because they were innocent. There's a difference. There's a difference. You know, if there are irregularities in a trial and if a prosecutor has done something wrong in a trial, that's tragic. That doesn't necessarily mean they're innocent.

KING: But there are people who have come off death row who are innocent. Other people have been caught. Other people have confessed.

SHEINDLIN: That's true.

KING: That's a horror.

SHEINDLIN: That's true. That's a horror. And that's where DNA evidence will help. It will say in those situation -- you are never on death row for doing anything other than a capital offense.

KING: You've got an unusual case in Montana, got a lot of attention. A woman convicted of endangering her unborn child by taking drugs was ordered to a judge to -- this sounds like Judy -- don't get pregnant for 10 years! The judge, Dorothy McCarter in Helena, Montana, ordered the woman to take a pregnancy test every two months. If she tests positive, she could be jailed.


SHEINDLIN: Frustration. It's really frustration, because you know, I -- I remember going to hospitals when I was a sitting judge in the family court and seeing babies -- babies who had been born with not only HIV-positive, but babies that had been born severely drug- addicted, small babies, babies going through withdrawal. And I remembered the rage that I felt, because the women that I saw having these babies didn't make a mistake once. It was year after year after year.

And so there was a time when I approached -- I was a relatively new judge; I had been there four or five years but really frustrated. And I said I would like to show the movies of a baby going through withdrawal in the waiting rooms of the family court. That's what I would like. We have walls. You don't have do watch if you don't want to. But if you have to sit there all day and you're there -- and 95 percent of the cases that I was hearing had to do with drug-addicted babies -- if you're there, you're going to see what your drug addiction did to that innocent, put that innocent through, because I would hear in court, Larry, people tell me: I can't get off, I'm addicted; I can't get off, I'm addicted. It'll be too painful; I've tried.

Do you know what your body goes through when you're coming off? Judge, I've tried. I can't do it.

Well, you know how painful it is for a baby who doesn't have a voice, newborn, going through the same muscular tremors, the same withdrawal as an adult, only the baby didn't ask for it, the baby didn't do it? So do I think that this judge was showbiz? No. I think she was frustrated.

KING: But if she gets pregnant, she's going to put her in jail. So now you're jailing a fetus.

SHEINDLIN: Well, I mean, I -- there was a time that I said, I think that we should change the law in New York State that the first time you had a drug-addicted baby it was an accident. The second time was a misdemeanor. And the third time was a felony. That's it.

KING: Back with more of Judge Judy and your phone calls. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their dog was really fast when he came over and bit down on my hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They parade outside and have their parties with their dogs outside, but we can't bring our dog outside?

SHEINDLIN: Your dog is dangerous!


SHEINDLIN: What kind of dog did you get this time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of dog?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another pit bull.





JUDGE JERRY SHEINDLIN, "THE PEOPLE'S COURT": People have always asked me -- frequently do they -- how do you handle your wife's celebrity? And I always respond, as I respond now, that I wake up every day saying -- and truthfully do -- I am happy to be married to her, and I truly, honestly revel in her celebrity.


KING: Good guy.

SHEINDLIN: Good guy.

KING: Setauket, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Hello, Judge Judy.`


SHEINDLIN: How are you?

CALLER: Wonderful. My father-in-law and I love your show.

SHEINDLIN: Thank you.

CALLER: And I have a question to you.


CALLER: Have you ever had any regret in any of your judgments?

KING: Good question.

SHEINDLIN: It's a very good question. When you deal in a court like I did, the family court, you do about 40 or 50 cases a day, little pieces of cases and sometimes a whole one. And you -- all you can do is do your best and only be motivated by trying to do the right thing. Trying to do the right thing not because you like lawyer or you dislike a lawyer, or because you want to get home early or because there's a movie that you want to watch on television, but only because you want every piece of information that you can possibly get, quality information, before you make a decision. And if you do that, you can't look back. You just can't look back, because it -- in the 30 now 30,000 or 40, 000 cases that I've tried over my career, if I second-guessed myself, I wouldn't sleep.

KING: You've got to go to sleep.

SHEINDLIN: And I've got to go to sleep.

KING: Toledo, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Hello, Judge Judy.

SHEINDLIN: Hello, Toledo, Ohio.

CALLER: Do you really believe, as quoted in the Australian press, that instead of giving addicts clean needles to stop the spread of AIDS and hepatitis we should all -- quote -- "give them all dirty needles and let them die"?

SHEINDLIN: Ridiculous.

KING: Did you say that...

SHEINDLIN: Ridiculous!

KING: But you were in Australia?

SHEINDLIN: I was in Australia.

KING: Where they do give out clean... SHEINDLIN: I was talking in Australia. We were talking about in Australia what they had. They had a longstanding law there, as they do here in many states in this country, where they were using free needles, the needle exchange program. And it wasn't going well because what was happening is that people were taking the needles, the free needles, and dropping them on the beaches. And they couldn't get garbage men to pick them up and kids were stepping all over them. So they decided to try something else.

After the free needles, they decided to have free shooting gallery areas, safe areas where you could go and shoot up. And my frustration -- I mean, we talked about this moments ago. My frustration with the victims, the innocent victims of drugs, is with the children who are the innocents and with the victims of crime, because what I said in Australia was that you may give these people free needles and you may give them a free place to shoot up, but nobody is giving them free heroin, and heroin is expensive. And none of the people that I saw in the family court were -- head of banks or had $100,000 jobs to support it. So these were the people that were going out and robbing and maiming and murdering people.

And that's a frustration that I have. That is a passion that I have. And I think that it is so irresponsible for people to misquote without a context of what we were talking about, a line, and attribute it to me. And fortunately, most of the responsible people in this country looked at what I said and said, that's ridiculous. There were a couple of those that didn't.

KING: Sinatra told me, though, there's a lot of tabloid journalism in Australia.

SHEINDLIN: Oh, absolutely.

KING: And they do misquote you.

SHEINDLIN: Oh, absolutely.

KING: Stafford, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi. I find Judge Judy in her courtroom as well as her husband, Judge Jerry in his courtroom, to be rude and sarcastic. And my question is, if a litigant were to come before them in their courtrooms, would they be found in contempt of court if they acted this rude and sarcastic?

SHEINDLIN: Well, you have to understand -- did you ever come into my courtroom when I was a sitting...

KING: He's gone.

SHEINDLIN: Well, as a sitting judge, if he's gone, as a sitting judge, I doubt whether you came into my courtroom. As a sitting judge, I doubt whether you came into my husband's courtroom. And you have to understand that this is who we are. We don't have a script. We don't have -- we don't have a pat scenario of the case that we're going to do. We try the case and we react to what people say to us. And all I can say to you, sir, is you know I'm a blunt lady, Larry. If you don't like what you see, turn off the TV.

KING: The people who come on agree that your decision is binding?

SHEINDLIN: Absolutely.

KING: And they get -- are they'd they paid?

SHEINDLIN: We bring them to Los Angeles. We pay for their airfare and they pay for their hotel.

KING: But if it's money involved, they have to pay...

SHEINDLIN: No, no, no. If they -- if there is a money judgment, a money judgment, then -- and only about 40 percent of our cases are money judgments -- then the producer's fund covers that money judgment. If the case is dismissed, it's dismissed for all purposes: can't appeal that. If there's an exchange of property, which there very often is, that order -- I sign an order and a sheriff or marshal will see to it that that property is exchanged.

This gentleman who called a moment ago reminded me of a funny interview that I did on the radio about two years ago. You know, we do these radio tours all over the country, and most everybody called up and said, gee, I love your program, and I really miss it. It was all -- it was all very nice.

Then there was one young man who got on, and he...

KING: That's the one call you remember.

SHEINDLIN: One call I remember. And he got on the phone, and he was railing me up and down. And he said, "And I can't stand the way you talk to people! And I watch you every single day. And if I ever went to a court and a judge talked to me like that, I would say..." I said, just a second, sir. I said, I understand. You can't stand to watch me, and yet, you just told me you watch every day. Who is crazy? You or me?


KING: We'll be back with more of Judge Judy on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She hit me in the face. She slammed me in between the refrigerator and the counters.


SHEINDLIN: Where did you hit her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In her face. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I grabbed a pot off the kitchen, and I swung and I hit her.

SHEINDLIN: You socked her in the fist with you face, right?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this is my best friend my whole life.

SHEINDLIN: Don't you know it's not nice for ladies to fight.



KING: We gave you the fly question earlier from Judge Judy's book. Here's another question -- and then ask her why they don't give the answers in the book. Multiple choice -- this is from the book just out, "Win or Lose by How You Choose."

Example: "Your father left his car keys in the ignition. You should (1) tell your father about the keys right away; (2) take the keys out of the ignition and give them to your father; (3) turn on the motor and see what it feels like; (4) drive the car around the block a couple of times.

This is for 8 to 12-year-olds. I would have answered (b), take the keys out of the ignition and give them to your father. You say the correct answer is tell your father about the keys.

Be that as it may, your book doesn't give the answer.


KING: Why?

SHEINDLIN: Well, I was really covering myself a little bit.

KING: Ah-hah!

SHEINDLIN: Because I think that there can be a natural criticism with people like me who have no particular experience in training and child -- early child development to give answers to children, to be, in effect, a maven on everything. You can't be a maven on everything.

KING: It's not your expertise, right?

SHEINDLIN: It's not my expertise. However, I'm a mother and a grandmother, and I saw a lot of kids make bad choices in school, so I could really -- in court. And I could really pull those scenarios out and say to kids, What would you do? And all I pray for is that they have at least one normal parent at home that wouldn't pick, drive a car around a block a couple of times and then return the keys. And so what I'm -- what I didn't want to do, is I didn't want people to think, well, she's given me the answers. Who is she to come up with the right answer? You said b; I say a. Who is she? What particular training does she have? So I'm just throwing it out to you, folks. I am just throwing it out to you, parents. You train your children. This is a tool to help you.

KING: By the way, Judy, before we take a break and have our remaining moment, do you have a favorite among the presidential candidates?


KING: Looking at all four?

SHEINDLIN: I am looking at all four. I am looking at all four. I am getting to know McCain a little bit better. I am getting to know Bradley a little bit better.

KING: You will vote in the New York primary, right?

SHEINDLIN: I will vote in the New York primary. But I certainly think that this time, it's an interesting race. You see, I am not giving an opinion on it, because I really haven't made up my mind yet.

KING: But had you would?

SHEINDLIN: I absolutely would have.

KING: Knowing you, I would bet you would. And when you do, you'll let me know?

SHEINDLIN: Absolutely.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Judge Judy, right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He grabbed me by my arm and my throat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She spit on me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I yelled at him, and he yelled at me.

SHEINDLIN: You had no reason to be at his house, zero. Even though you are sweet and kind, and butter would melt in your mouth, you instigated the problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not afraid of him.

SHEINDLIN: Well, that's right. So there we go, the syrup is gone. We're getting down to who this lady really is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to get down to who he really is.

SHEINDLIN: Let me tell you something, we're getting down to who you are.


KING: By the way, LARRY KING WEEKEND will not be on tomorrow night, as CNN will provide continuous coverage of the results of the primary in South Carolina, nor will we be on Monday because of the big debate, the discuss on race in America, to be held at the Apollo Theater in New York. It will be between Gore and Bradley and a major discussion following it.

Tuesday night, Jeff Greenfield will host the coverage of both the primaries in Michigan and in Arizona. There will be two editions of LARRY KING LIVE.

Then, next week, Burt Reynolds will be with us and Don Imus and John Tesh.

By the way, have you ever been fearful of anybody in the court? Have you ever worried that this guy or guy or woman might be mad enough to meet you after?

SHEINDLIN: No, I haven't been fearful of anybody. Some people have not like rulings. You know, when you terminate someone's parental rights to their children, that's a heavy thing to do.

KING: But you haven't been in fear?


KING: Warrenton, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Larry.

KING: Yes?

CALLER: Thanks so much for accepting the call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: I wanted to ask Judge Judy how the cases are selected that come before her, since my husband and I are avid watchers every day. Also, her dear husband, we watch him, too.

SHEINDLIN: You doll, thank you.

KING: How do you select the cases?

SHEINDLIN: We have times of researchers that go throughout the country, and they go to lower trial courts and they look through the dockets.

KING: They go around physically?

SHEINDLIN: Physically go around. And we have what they called stringers also. You if don't have somebody in that particular area. If we want to do cases from Philadelphia, we'll hire somebody in Philadelphia to do that. They go through the cases, and they see if the case looks interesting on paper. And if it does, they send that case back to California, where we have people who will call up the litigants and say, this is who we are, plaintiff, defendant, and if it's interesting, we'll bring them in.

KING: You don't take obviously, criminal...


KING: Are there other kind of civil matters you won't take?

SHEINDLIN: Well, I won't do a custody case for instance.

KING: That shouldn't be decided in 15 minutes?

SHEINDLIN: And it shouldn't be decided in front of an audience, and -- at least a television-type audience.

KING: But you children. We saw the child with the dog.

SHEINDLIN: Yes oh, yes, child is bitten by a dog, the child -- sometimes children get involved in -- what I call petty crime vandalism, and the neighbor will sue the parents to replace the property that the children destroyed.

KING: Did you ever think maybe of getting into a little heavier subject? Would you get into a subject where, oh, a minority was denied service in a restaurant? You have on the restaurant owner and the person?

SHEINDLIN: I would -- would I?

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: If I could do anytime sufficient time. That's something that would take time. The problem with cases like that and with cases like custody cases...

KING: Court TV.

SHEINDLIN: You can't give it short shrift.

KING: Do you like Court TV?

SHEINDLIN: I do. But you know, I can't watch a trial that takes two, three weeks. I mean, how long did it take to make the world? To me, most trials shouldn't take two or three weeks. If you have the right ringmaster, a trial shouldn't take, -- most trials...

KING: What's the longest trial you ever had?

SHEINDLIN: Oh, I had trials that lasted weeks because I couldn't do them continuously, because I had to do them for an hour one day and then an hour the next day, but I had cases that took long, and it's always bad. A case that takes too long in family court is always bad.

KING: And there was the judge in the case of the Perleman divorce, got mad at both sides. He would be -- threw them out of court one day.

SHEINDLIN: Because it's frustrating. Because when you're dealing with children and dealing custody of children and visitation with children, delay always works to the detriment of the child, because if a child is with the father and the mother wants custody, and there's a battle royale, and it takes three years, and then the judge says, well, now I see the child really should be with the mother, but for three years, the child has been with the other parent. That's devastating to a child.

KING: As always, great having you with us.

SHEINDLIN: Thank you.

KING: Judge Judy, and her book is Judge Judy Sheindlin's "Win or Lose By How You Choose." To the publisher is Cliff Street Books, a division of Harper Collins.

Stay tuned for CNN NEWSSTAND and complete coverage tomorrow of that big primary in South Carolina.

I am Larry King in New York. For Judge Judy and all the rest of us, have a great weekend and good night.



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