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Larry King Live

Jerry and Judy Sheindlin Discuss Laying Down the Law on TV

Aired September 12, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: a gavel-to-gavel couple who bring orders to their have their TV courts: the Sheindlins, Judge Judy and Judge Jerry. They're in session for the hour -- next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Order in the court. Here they are, the two of them. Do they need an introduction? Judge Judy, in her fifth season presiding over the show that bears her name, "Judge Judy" -- also a bestselling author, former judge in New York's family court -- and Judge Jerry Sheindlin, her husband. His show: "The People's Court." He enters his second season as the host. The show has been on for a long time. He is a former justice in the New York state Supreme Court.

Are there any cities where you're on against each other?

JUDGE JERRY SHEINDLIN, "THE PEOPLE'S COURT": Yes, as a matter of fact.

JUDGE JUDY SHEINDLIN, "JUDGE JUDY": Go ahead.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Atlanta.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Right.

KING: And who does better?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: What's your next question?

KING: Ah, you beat him, huh, Judy?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I don't look at those things.

KING: Is it competitive at home?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: No.

KING: Truth.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: No.

KING: No?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Not at all. Not at all. JUDY SHEINDLIN: No, he's not -- tell him.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: As long as she's No. 1, it doesn't make any difference where I am. It doesn't matter.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: No, there is no competition. This is really a lark for both of us.

KING: It's still a lark.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Still a lark.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes. Yes.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: And it gets even more so every year, because it -- the fantasy, you know -- the initial fantasy was the first year. And now it's become more of a job. You know, we go to work. We don't go work from 9:00 to 5:00 like we used to. But we go to work. And we are having a wonderful time.

I mean, how can you -- how can you make something negative out of that by competing with each other? It's really -- it would really be foolish.

KING: What is the purpose of "The People's Court," Jerry? Entertainment? Or is it informative?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I think it's a combination of both. I hope it's both. And I think it works because it is both entertainment, and I think people learning from the show.

KING: So are you aware that you're not a court in the -- you're not in court the Supreme Court or the state of New York?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I'm constantly aware of that.

KING: You are aware it's a television show?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes.

KING: And you are a judge, but you're also a performer.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Well, I'm primarily a judge. And if, during the course of my responsibilities as a judge, it's entertaining, that's fine.

KING: You're very animated -- obviously. Are you aware that I am a television star, host, personality?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Oh, listen -- I mean, being realistic, if you want to watch a court process, you turn on Court TV and you sit and watch a trial for three weeks -- and all the minutia that goes into making a trial technical and boring. If you want to get a snippet of what the court process -- in my judgment, and at least in small claims kinds of cases and civil cases -- should be like, then you tune into either one of us. And we will demonstrate in a relatively short period of time that it can be informative, that it can be entertaining, that it can be resolved in 17 1/2 minutes, right? And satisfactorily. But I know all the time that if we were boring, you and I wouldn't have this relationship for four years.

KING: So you know it's a show.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Absolutely.

KING: OK.

Now, Jerry, do you therefore understand the criticism by those in the legal community who say this ain't a court?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Well, I understand it, of course. I understand it. But I tell you, Larry, Judy and I -- who are fairly much the same way on the bench -- I....

KING: You really...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: ... in the Supreme Court and her in family court --as what you see.

KING: In other words, you're not putting on something.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I'm not putting anything on. That's the way I am. And it is a method of controlling a courtroom. You have to be strict. But primarily, at the end, you have to do the right thing.

KING: Except you had lawyers there in your court, right?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes, of course.

KING: You would treat lawyers the way you treat people?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Worse.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I mean, I don't mean that -- worse -- no, I mean, you can be rough on people.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Somebody's going to control the courtroom. If I don't control the courtroom, the plaintiff will. Or the defendant will. Or Josetine (ph) will. Or the executive producer will. Somebody's going to control that courtroom. I prefer that it be me.

KING: It's your ballgame, right, Judge Judy?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: It's my ballgame. How do the critics who say: Well, it gives the public...

KING: How do you react to it? I mean, you've seen it all these years. You're a hit. You don't have to worry about it. But basically... JUDY SHEINDLIN: No, listen, I had criticism when I was a sitting family court judge. They said that my judicial temperament was in the toilet, you know. And I should clean up my act. And, bottom line is, I was a successful family court judge and I became the supervising judge of all of Manhattan in the family courts.

And I trained other judges for 10 years, from 1986 to 1995 at the request of the state -- so that, although my demeanor may have been a little -- a little less soothing perhaps than some might like, I got to the point and I did the job. And I think the same holds true with this entertainment court program: which is, I get the job done. And, at the same time, it is entertaining.

It's not entertaining because we have a script. We don't have a script. We just go out there and do a case at the same time you're seeing it.

KING: By the way, we will be taking calls for the judges. And you can start calling in early. We will get a lot of calls in tonight.

Judge Jerry, understanding that it is a show-business factor -- and that you are...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Of course.

KING: ... is the success of a judge -- out of that arena -- but in the court arena -- the amount of times he or she is overturned?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I...

KING: If you are overturned a lot, are you an unsuccessful judge on appeal?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I would think so. I think that's one of the criteria.

KING: So a good measure of a judge is: How often are they over -- were you overturned a lot in family court?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: No.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: No.

KING: You weren't -- both -- neither were.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: No.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: No.

KING: That's one of the measures, right?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes, of course.

KING: The losing side appealed and your decision was upheld?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Of course.

KING: What -- one other thing is about temperament, which I notice in both of you, which must be the most difficult part in being a judge. You may not like one of the parties, but that party may be right.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Right.

KING: How do you deal with that emotionally? I see you. You get mad at someone and then rule in their favor.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Well, listen, when I dealt with women who were having crack-addicted babies every year like clockwork, I didn't like them particularly. And I thought that they why doing not only a disservice to their children and themselves, but a disservice to the community. But when I was trying their case, the case, to me, was the facts as presented by the lawyers -- and whatever the lawyers didn't bring out, what I could bring out with my own noodling around, so that they got a fair shake.

It was not that I didn't liked them -- like them or dislike them. If you're trying a criminal without a jury -- if you're trying an accused without a jury, and you know that he is a criminal, a career -- he or she is a career criminal -- it doesn't mean you like them. But if the government doesn't have the merchandise, you have got to rule in their favor.

KING: And you -- same way when you do your show?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Oh, yes. One of -- yes, of course. One of the worst cases I ever tried as a judge in the Supreme Court, I could not stand the defendant. I had great sympathy for the victim. And I was compelled because of the law to rule in favor of the defendant. And I never forgot it. It just stays on your mind.

KING: It's not easy.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Not easy, no.

KING: We will be back with the Sheindlins: Judge Judy and Judge Jerry -- even have t-shirts. It's come to that.

We will be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JUDGE JUDY")

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Where do you come off spending $4,000 for a 60- inch color television? What did you need with a 60-inch television set? When you were 19 years old with one child on welfare, what did you need with a -- do you have a 60-inch color television set?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Negative.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Neither do I.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE PEOPLE'S COURT")

JERRY SHEINDLIN: August 8, one caller checked your own message. Do you have a friend by the name of Joel, or a relative by the name of Joel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's his roommate, current.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: What's your roommates name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) named Joel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joel.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: You don't know a friend by the name of Joel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No Joel, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joel. It's Joel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No Joel.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: What? What's the name of your roommate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His name is Joel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: No comment.

Why, Jerry, do we like these shows?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I think it shows people with problems that can't solve them themselves.

KING: This is reality TV.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Reality TV. It's actual litigants. And they come before a judge. And the judge is able to find the problem, solve it and there's a resolution. And I think people like that.

KING: So it's daytime drama.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Sure it's daytime drama. I also think it has to do with the public's perception that the judicial system hasn't been functioning quite right lately. You know, they saw over the last ten years cases that were very unsatisfying, you know. It took a very long...

KING: Simpson was a classic case.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: It took a very long time -- and with the result that most people said: Oy! You know. And then you had the resurgence of the courtroom genre television program. I mean, when I started that first year, I was the only courtroom program on. I think -- this is the start of a new season -- I think there were something like 11 or 12 new courtroom programs. A lot of judges -- I mean, I don't know who is going to be left in the states to judge cases.

KING: Where do you get all the cases, Jerry?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Well, we have researchers that go around the country, actually look in the court files and see if the case presents on paper an interesting case. And then they'll contact the people. And they...

KING: And offer them what? To come on television...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I think it's two-hundred and -- yes, to come on television -- a very minor appearance fee. I don't think that's the reason that they come on. And...

KING: If I lose the case for $1000, do I pay it, or the TV show pays it?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: The TV show pays it.

KING: So I -- it pays for me to do this, because whether I win or lose, it's not going to cost me.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: It doesn't cost you -- if you win. But you could lose. And you don't get anything.

KING: I could lose and not get anything. But...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Not get anything at all, of course.

KING: I see.

You do the same thing: go around the country, look at cases?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Do we do the same thing? Sometimes, we have what they call stringers that we don't pay directly, but they get paid, you know, so much per day.

So we send them to many more cities than a lot of other programs do, because right now, you have 11 courtroom shows -- 12 -- and they're fighting over cases, you know. I mean, you know, these -- this is like celebrity boxing.

KING: And the key is every case must have conflict, first?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Well, every case does have conflict. Is it an interesting conflict? Are the people interesting? So if both of those things coincide, and then, if they agree -- both sides have to agree -- then you have a case.

KING: And you also, I notice, Judy pick out things that are difficult, where the audience watching goes back and forth. He's right. She's right. Well, maybe he's right. Maybe she's right. Right? A lot of those cases...

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Sometimes, sometimes -- sometimes, can you target in right away on who is giving you the baloney and who's not. And sometimes, the scenario changes. You know, neither one of us have anything more than some rough notes written by the litigants, you know: a complaint and an answer. That's the way you work. And that's the way I work. I don't how people...

KING: So what do you -- that's what -- how much time do you spend to read a case before you do the case?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Oh, I spend time. I do.

KING: You too?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Not much.

KING: Not much?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: No.

KING: Don't you think you miss things, then?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: No. I -- I found that it's better for me if I just know generally what the case is about, so that, as the people are telling me their story, I'm learning the facts at the same time that the people watching are learning the facts. And I don't want to know too much.

So, Jerry is a litigator who prepared a case, you know -- spent hours preparing his when he was defending people accused of crimes. And he has carried that over into his preparation of these cases.

KING: So you put a lot of time into your work?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I do.

KING: You tape how many show? How do you work the schedule?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I tape about 12 shows a day. I work...

KING: A day?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: A day.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Twelve cases.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Twelve cases a day. It's not shows. Twelve cases a day.

KING: That's six shows a day.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes, that would be six. And I work two days a week. And the rest of the time, I prepare.

KING: And do you all yours in New York? JERRY SHEINDLIN: In New York.

KING: You go to California to do yours.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I go to California. I work every other week for a couple of days. I tap dance faster.

KING: And -- how many shows do you do in the two days? You just stack them up, huh?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I don't know. You do also 10, 12 cases a day. But sometimes that translates into more cases.

KING: Is it fun?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Oh, yes, it's still fun. It's still exciting. It's new. It's still new.

KING: That's important.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Maybe it's because we're getting older and I forget about what happened five minutes ago, so everything seems new.

KING: When your wife became a star and you weren't on, did you want to do it?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: No, not at all.

KING: So when they came to you, it was...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I was taking a trip on her stardom. I really was.

KING: And you are -- you enjoying it?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I loved it. And I...

KING: But when they came to you, you took it.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Larry, they gave me an offer I couldn't refuse. So I took it, of course.

KING: Did you recommend him?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: No.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: No, I did not recommend him. But years -- several years before, Warner Brothers approached him to do this program, I had suggested to the folks who produce my program, I said: "You know, what would be a really great kick? Tracy and Hepburn." Remember Tracy and Hepburn?

KING: Sure.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I said: "I've watched Jerry Sheindlin work for years." I said: "He would really be terrific." Nobody listened to me. They said: "What does she know," you know. "She's not in the business." So somebody else got smart. Stu Billet got smart.

KING: We will be back. We'll be including your phone calls for the judges. This is LARRY KING LIVE.

Tomorrow night, Charlie Rose will be here. And on Thursday night: Peter Jennings. And Friday night, a major program -- please tell people you know about it -- major program on breast cancer. We will be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JUDGE JUDY")

JUDY SHEINDLIN: You remember the evening of July 25?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Was there a blackout on July 25?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes there was.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: You wouldn't swear to something that wasn't true, would you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Since the incident occurred on the 23rd of July, not the 25th of July, because there was no blackout on that day -- if you're going to be a liar, you have got to be a good liar.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE PEOPLE'S COURT")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I break into so many houses, don't you think out of everything I could take out of a house, I would take something a little bit more expensive than a tackle box?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seriously.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You -- it's -- no, it was real embarrassing...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Quiet, madam. Don't ask your mom...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seriously, she's -- she...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: And don't me to explain the mind of a burglar. I never was able to explain it, sir. So don't ask me why you only stole a tackle box.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She fabricates everything she says. She fabricates everything she says.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you're going to believe everything she says, because she is an adult. That's the way everybody has had it their whole life. So whatever happens, I really don't care.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I know. That's why you're always in trouble, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, right.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: That's why you're always in trouble. You're out of control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're right.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: You're 18 years old and you have no sense of responsibility: none.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're right. You're right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's discuss some controversial areas. Court TV is going to do a show called "Confessions." They're going to show actual confessions of convicted people, many of them murderers, released to the Court TV people by the prosecution. Now, this is because the case is over.

What do you think?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Why not? I mean, they show -- you can turn on the television -- flip the television -- and you can see somebody having their gall bladder removed. Right, I mean...

KING: On a Medical Channel?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: On a Medical Channel. I mean, you can have -- watch somebody delivering a baby on the Medical Channel. You turn on the Discovery Channel and you see all kinds of animals fornicating. Why not -- why not the confession of a murderer?

KING: Do you have any problem with a guy describing how he gouged a victim's eyes out?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: If it's true, I have no problem with it. It's...

KING: If it's true, no problem.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: No.

KING: Because there's a lot of people upset that this is taking television -- reality television -- to its nth degree.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Really, I wonder who is upset about that?

KING: Critics.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Who?

KING: Print critics -- a lot of print critics.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Print. A lot...

KING: Court TV has reacted to it so much so that they're going to a panel show after each confessions discussing that particular confession.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: You know what I find interesting about that, Larry? Just so that -- I know we want to get to other things. But I think that it's important for people to see how vicious some people can be in the commission of a crime.

KING: You've seen real criminals.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: There are a lot of people out there who tend to sidestep and soften what really vicious people can do while they commit a crime.

A lot of folks who think, well, it's because they were misunderstood as children, you have to give them another chance, we shouldn't put them in solitary confinement, we should give them lots of exercise rooms and remediation and all that other kind of stuff. And I think it's important for the public to get a balanced view, listen to somebody confessing how they sodomize little children for the last 10 years. And then you -- but the description. And then let me hear some critics, print critics come up and say, "I think that it's wrong to put these people away for life because it's an illness."

KING: Now, jumping -- piggy backing on that, the Federal Trade Commission yesterday really "wacks" out American television for use of violence. Are you fearful that that's a kind of intrusion into First Amendment rights, when a government commission comes up with that strong of a report, and backed up, by the way, by both presidential candidates?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes, yes. Well, I think it's true. I think television violence plays some part in the violence that's acted out by children.

KING: So it was correct for the FTC to so state that?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I think so.

KING: Do you think it implies pressure?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Of course, it implies pressure. Of course.

I think the basic problem rests with the family, and I think the parents ought to take greater control of their children and what they watch. But I think the government also has a responsibility to tone down some of these violent things that you see.

KING: You don't think they should go in and say that script can't go on television?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: No, I don't think that.

KING: All right. Where do you draw a line, Judy? I mean, where...

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Free commerce should draw a line. We're not talking about violence. I believe we're talking about gratuitous violence aimed toward children.

KING: Correct.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: In dispute resolution, you know, how do you -- well, you take a gun, you take an Uzi, you know, you use a weapon, and I don't think that the government has to say anything. I think if you're Proctor & Gamble, you can say a whole lot. I don't think -- the government doesn't have to make those.

KING: But if I say to Proctor & Gamble my show is delivering you 42 percent of adults in an age group you want...

JUDY SHEINDLIN: We're not talking about adults. We're talking about children. When you're talking about children, you're talking about molding children. And if you are a company that is going to try to produce a product that's bought by the vast majority of people, and the vast majority of people in this country do not want gratuitous violence on television because they can't control their children. They may control them in their house, but they can't control them in Tommy's house or at Sue's house or in Nancy's house. They would like it not to be there, and I think that economic pressure can do it.

KING: But when you're a television executive, you don't want to finish third...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: That's correct.

KING: ... to the other two networks.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: That's right.

KING: So you put on some...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: And the other two have violence.

KING: So it comes down to dollars.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Absolutely.

KING: Do you -- are you concerned with encroachment of the First Amendment?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes, of course. It's a delicate balance, because where do you stop? I mean, where do you end the definition of violence? Where does it end?

KING: What is the definition of "gratuitous"? JUDY SHEINDLIN: Oh, I think we all know that. You know, they had the...

KING: Know it when you see it.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I think the same way that you know what is really pornographic.

KING: That was that Supreme Court case.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: You remember -- right. Do you remember?

KING: "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it."

JUDY SHEINDLIN: "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." You know it when you see it.

KING: We'll be right back with more of the judges and we're going to ask Judge Sheindlin -- Judge Jerry -- they're both Judge Sheindlin -- presided over the first DNA case and we'll ask him about that, and we'll take your calls, and we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're going to start including your phone calls, but first, tell me about this DNA thing.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Well, back in 1989 I decided the first triple- murder case.

KING: Where DNA was involved?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Where DNA was involved. It was my responsibility to decide if DNA was an acceptable portion of evidence in this particular murder case.

KING: And you said yes?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I said yes, and interestingly enough, the defense lawyers were Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld.

KING: Who have now made it a career.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes.

KING: And get a lot of people out of prison.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes.

KING: Does that get you a little? Does that shock you a little that a lot of people have been to prison that didn't do the crimes they were convicted of?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Well, you know, that's terrible, but I'm not so sure that all of that is true. Didn't they do something where somebody was released on a rape charge because they said the evidence didn't fit, and an hour and a half...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: That was a case in Long Island...

JUDY SHEINDLIN: ... an hour and a half after he was released, he went and raped somebody else. Didn't that happen? You didn't hear much about the second part of that.

KING: Bellflower, California, as we go to calls for Judy and Jer. Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi. I wanted to ask both Judy and Jerry how are defendants and plaintiffs screened for the shows, and I also wanted to ask Judge Judy if there was any kind of partiality in the screening for picking family matters for her because of her background.

KING: Good question.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I have no idea what the screening process is like. I really tried from the very beginning just to stick with what I do, which is try the case. So I leave that up to the producers.

However, I do know that they know that I shine, if you want to say shine, when I do family cases, because that's what I'm best at. That's what my training was in. That's where I spent my career.

KING: So you like a family case better than a guy who stole a lawnmower?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Or you know, a case that has to do with easements, which I know nothing about, or a case that has to do with math, which I'm lousy at. So I do much better with family cases.

KING: Yours?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I have no idea which case is going...

KING: You're not part of the process.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes, not at all.

KING: Vineland, New Jersey, hello.

CALLER: Hi. This is for Judge Judy.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: How do you feel that the upbringing your parents gave you contributes to your success today?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: That's not a hard question. I was really very lucky. I had two wonderful, moral, hardworking parents, and I loved them both. And I also had had a very, very unusual relationship with my father, who made me feel special and unique from the time I think I drew my first breath, so that I grew up with a certain confidence that you can't get unless your parents give it to you when you're very, very young. So it was really a gift for me.

And I think that those things -- that they were honest and honorable and hardworking -- and that feeling my dad gave me growing up that I was special gave me the kind of confidence that was wonderful and served me well.

KING: You were a defense attorney, Jerry?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes.

KING: Didn't you run into a lot of clients who may have committed crimes who grew up in the same situation?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Oh, yes.

KING: So it's hard to puzzle it? Good fathers, good mothers, good brothers.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes. Good fathers, good mothers, good -- I just can't figure it. It's -- and there -- you have twins growing up in the same house. I remember one case where there were twins growing up in the basement of this tenement in the Bronx. The father was a super in the building.

One twin was going to medical school. The other guy went up on the roof, had been in trouble all his life, lured a 15-year-old up on the roof, raped her and threw her off the roof. And the father had to make a decision: Shall I use my money to bail this guy out or to pay the bills for his son, who was in medical school? That's a problem.

KING: What did he do?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I don't know.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I know what I'd do.

KING: Pay the bills for the son.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: For the son.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: In medical school.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: In medical school.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Right.

KING: And let the other kid stay in jail. We'll be back -- she's tough. We'll be back with the judges. More calls. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JUDGE JUDY")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was some sort of sexual activity that went on, on my bed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I speak?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: When I'm ready.

When teenagers have an empty house, that is a prescription for trouble. And she's got an attitude.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your honor, can I speak?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: First, take your hands off your hips. Stand up straight like you're in court. You're not at a beach.

I'm not going to get through to her. I have a sense that she's a lost cause at 14.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE PEOPLE'S COURT")

JERRY SHEINDLIN: So why did you put this in your answer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trying to be slick.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: You got caught, Mister. You're not supposed to be slick when you're in court. You're supposed to tell the truth.

You get slick -- you know what happens when people try to be slick in front of me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's that?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Watch and see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Judge Judy -- she presides over "Judge Judy," in its fifth season -- and Judge Jerry Sheindlin, presiding over the famed "People's Court" now in its second season with Judge Sheindlin at the helm.

Tomorrow night, Charlie Rose will be out special guest on "LARRY KING LIVE." Peter Jennings on Thursday.

Let's go back to calls. Boynton Beach, Florida, for the judges. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi, Judge Judy. I love your show. My question is, what is your advice on controlling a completely out-of-control 11-year-old child? KING: Boy or girl?

CALLER: Boy.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: There are a lot of 11-year-olds that are completely out-of-control. How out-of-control you have to tell me. I mean, is he not going to school, is he cutting school?

KING: What is he doing, ma'am?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: What is he doing?

KING: He -- he constantly beats up his brother. He -- the language he uses is unbelievable, and he's been on a medication. Nothing seems to phase him at all.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Well, I think if he's been on medication that means that he must also have been involved in therapy. I don't think you put a child on medication like Ritalin, which is I assume what you're talking about, without a component of therapy. You know, sometimes you just have to get -- sometimes you just have to get through it. By the time, they're 11, 12 and 13 years old, they're going to get over it or they're going to get worse.

But you've done Ritalin, and it seems to me therapy is the next thing if you haven't tried it.

KING: Do you believe there's such a thing as a bad seed?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes, I do.

KING: You do believe? The kid...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes.

KING: ... grows up bad?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I've seen -- I've seen too much of it and for no other reason other than the fact that the person is bad.

KING: Family court you see it?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I've seen families. There is one young -- he's not a young man anymore. He must be in his 30s. He's currently in maximum security prison in New York state, and he's a murderer. He was responsible for -- his name is Willie Bosket. He's responsible for the change in the law in New York that allows children to be tried as adults. I mean, he must have killed five or six people by the time he was 16.

And somebody, Fox Butterfield...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: ... wrote a book, "New York Times" writer, and he chronicled the males in this Willie Bosket's life. His father, who he never lived with, was a murderer, and his grandfather, who never lived with his father, was a murderer and executed for murder. And they never lived with each other. None of these males ever lived with each other.

KING: So you're saying there's a murder gene?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I don't know. You know, there's a lot -- there are a lot of theories about it. Sometimes some people say it's not a murder gene but perhaps it's a reduction in the production of seratonin in the brain that causes a certain amount of depression. You need a rush, so the only way you get a rush is by going out and committing a violent act.

I don't know what it is, but I've certainly seen enough -- and I know Jerry has over his -- he's older than I am, you know, by nine years. So he's...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Nine...

JUDY SHEINDLIN: 9 1/2 years and several days.

KING: Doesn't stop, does she?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: So he's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) longer than I have. So I think that that's true. I think that there are certain people who just are sociopaths.

KING: Are bad.

Jonesboro, Arkansas, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I'd like to know what Judge Judy and Judge Jerry's most memorable cases, whether good or bad, that they still think of.

KING: Most memorable, Judge Jer?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: The DNA case on the Supreme Court, yes.

KING: When you ruled, you had studied the scientific evidence?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes, I had to learn it as I was trying the case.

KING: It must have been mindboggling.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: It was unbelievable, amazing. And I wrote two books on it afterwards.

KING: Judge Judy?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Most memorable case that I had in the family court was about the state and certain agencies who conspired, although not maliciously, had conspired to remove a child from his mother and kept them apart for seven years, kept the child in a foster home for seven years.

KING: With good intentions?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: With good intentions, but with a conspiratorial plot to keep this child from his mother.

KING: You gave it back?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I did.

KING: New York City, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, judges.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Good evening. My husband and I have been watching the show tonight, and we were both very shocked to hear that the shows pay the penalties of the litigants, whoever wins or loses, and we were just wondering how do the judges expect anyone to really learn anything or take responsibility for their actions if there's really no personal penalty to them.

KING: Fair question.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I think that there is a penalty. You have to remember -- and I know that, since you're watching tonight, you probably watch our programs at least once in a while. Only in perhaps 30, 25 to 30 percent of the cases that I know I try is there a money judgment. Very often it's the return of property: the return of a car, the return of a ring, the return of furniture, the return of other tangible personal property. And the parties sign an agreement to be bound by whatever I do so that a marshal or a sheriff will in fact see to it that that property is returned. And I do fashion an order to that extent.

Sometimes, at least a third of the cases are dismissed outright, which means that the person who brought that case, hoping to win their lawsuit, and therefore win money, loses and gets nothing.

KING: But in the financial cases...

JUDY SHEINDLIN: In those financial cases, when they are suing for a dollar amount, it's been historical in all courtroom genre cases that people will not come if they say, listen...

KING: Why should I go on?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Why should I go on television unless if I lose this case for $1,800 somebody else is going to pay the...

KING: The question was, judge, do they learn a lesson if they don't have to pay the 1,800?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I think they do. I'd take a just slight difference in the reasons why people come on the show than Judy. I think one of the rage major reasons is, is that this lawsuit before it comes on television has been pending for seven, eight months, nine months, and the people have been saying to each other, "I'm right and you're wrong, and when I got to court, I'm going to show you that I'm right and you're wrong."

And of course, money is involved, but I think the emotional impact of having a judge say, you're right and the person saying, see, I told you so, has an important ingredient in why people come on the show.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I agree with that.

KING: As opposed to the 15 minutes of fame for people who go on talk shows?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: And that, too. No, I think that, too: that goes into the ingredients also.

KING: Back with more and more of your phone calls on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JUDGE JUDY")

JUDY SHEINDLIN: And who grabbed her in a head lock?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She wasn't in a head lock.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Ended up you got your face bashed in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, ma'am.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: That's too bad. Do you want to show me the pictures that I can just how dumb you are?

You had your cheekbone fractured?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, ma'am.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Umm. That's pretty bad. What kind of knife was there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was no...

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Don't tell me there was no knife. I don't want to hear there was no knife.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You get worked up. Who are the people in the audience? You don't know that either.

(LAUGHTER)

Do you know who...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: They're people from the public. KING: Oh, they get tickets.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes.

KING: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, hello.

CALLER: Hi.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: This question is for both the judges Sheindlin. You were speaking of this new courtroom show "Confessions" that was going to be coming up.

KING: It's coming on Court TV. It's not a courtroom show. It's actual confessions of defendants in murder trials.

CALLER: OK. Well, if we've got that, are we far from seeing an actual execution on TV? We've come close with, I believe it was with Carla Faye Tucker. We actually saw the witnesses going into the building.

KING: Yes, we did. And Phil Donahue would like to come on and host an execution. He thinks that if we showed one, you'd end capital punishment in America.

All right. Should we show them? Is that next?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I don't know. I really don't know.

KING: You don't have an opinion?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: No.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I think that one of the greatest forces to end capital punishment would be to show it as it actually occurs.

KING: So you agree with Phil?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes, absolutely.

KING: Should we show it?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I think we should end it. I'm not sure we should show it.

KING: End capital punishment?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes.

KING: You're not sure we should show it.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: No.

KING: But is that the next step after "Confessions"?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Well, why don't you do...

KING: The guy did it...

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Why don't you do -- you've got to take the whole scenario. If you're going to show the confession and if -- and show the act of violence itself and show -- and the execution, at least you do it in order.

You know, there was a movie -- remember the movie with Sean Penn.

KING: "Dead Man Walking."

JUDY SHEINDLIN: "Dead Man Walking."

KING: One of the great movies ever made.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: It was interesting. We saw that movie together in a theater in New York, and it was clearly the intention of the producers and the director of that movie to produce a movie that showed capital punishment at its worst.

KING: The lady nun wrote the book who was...

JUDY SHEINDLIN: At its worst.

KING: But it showed the other side.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: There were cheers in that theater.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: When they executed him.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: When they executed him.

KING: Even though you cared about him?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Oh, I didn't care about him one hoot.

KING: You didn't?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: No.

KING: You didn't care about him in that movie?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I didn't care about him. I cared about that couple...

KING: Yes, they showed that side.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: ... in the woods doing nothing and being slaughtered. And if there is any question in anybody's mind that this miscreant saw the light because he was incarcerated and he was going to meet his maker, if he had been left out there on the street, there would have been 20 more like that couple.

KING: She cheered. Did you cheer?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I'm against capital punishment.

KING: Scottsdale, Arizona, hello.

CALLER: Hi. You guys are wonderful.

Listen, Judge Wapner, who ended up with way in the beginning, and he had the exclusive on everything. Has the criteria changed at all or just anything? Has it changed? Has it been, you know, other than the people want to watch this more?

KING: You mean have judicial shows changed?

CALLER: Right. Has it changed at all?

KING: Either of you know some history here, from Wapner's original "People's Court"? If we looked at that today.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I think that judges are more active on TV now that it was at the time that "People's Court" originated.

KING: More animated.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: More animated. And of course, they have greater control of the courtroom.

KING: Different kinds of cases?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Sometimes different kinds of cases, but I think Jerry is right, that I think that the personality of the presiding judge has become more important than the case itself, which I think was more important when Joe Wapner was presiding.

KING: It's the judge's show.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Yes.

KING: Charlotte, North Carolina, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Judges, I would like to ask you how the two of you met.

KING: Oh, it's been a year since she told it on this show, so tell it again.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Who, you or me?

KING: You both divorced? Is that right?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Both divorced, and in between marriages. I was at a bar talking to some reporter about a murder case that I had just tried successfully, and she came walking in. Our eyes met...

KING: You weren't a judge yet.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: No, no, I was a lawyer. Judy was a prosecutor. I was a defense attorney.

KING: Did you know each other?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: No, not at all.

She walked into the bar, and she walked up to me and put her finger in my face, and said...

JUDY SHEINDLIN: And I said, "And who is this?"

JERRY SHEINDLIN: And I said, "Lady, get your finger out of my face."

KING: Why did you say that to him?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: He was adorable. I saw him -- you know, sometimes you look at somebody across a room...

KING: You were -- you were turned on?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: You look at somebody across the room and you say that is a look that I could live with, and that's what happened.

KING: Did you think she was a little bold?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Bold?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Think?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Aggressive, obnoxious.

KING: That appealed to you.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: And appealed to me. Absolutely. And since that day, Larry, I'm going to show you something. I've been walking around with this. You ready?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Yes.

KING: You're kidding?

But it ain't bad to look at. On that note, we'll be -- we'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE PEOPLE'S COURT")

JERRY SHEINDLIN: You wanted to buy it. The defendant refused to sell it to you, and there came a point in time when he changed his mind. And you agreed to purchase the truck either for $300 or $500. I can't tell from the papers what the agreement was. And part of the payment was in two separate forms: cigarettes and sex.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. Anniston, Alabama, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Judge Judy...

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Yes.

CALLER: ... I'd like to first of all tell you I watch your show every single night. I think you're so very intelligent, and I'd like to know if you've ever thought about maybe perhaps running for political office, such as -- I think you could be the first female president, I really do. You're so intelligent. Have you ever thought about it, maybe think about it?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Well, let me tell you: You know, people -- there are some people who have broached that subject to me over the years, and especially recently. Being in politics, you really have to give up any notion of privacy whatsoever. And it really is -- it's a very aggravating business. You have to be nice to people who you ordinarily wouldn't say hello to because you need money to run a campaign. You have to be -- you have to sort of skirt the issues. You can't come right out and say directly what you feel.

That's my strong suit. That's -- this business gives me the opportunity...

KING: You might be a novel...

JUDY SHEINDLIN: ... to say that.

KING: You'd be a novel candidate.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: This business gives me the opportunity. Somebody asks me a question, "How do you feel about watching an execution?" I'll tell you.

KING: Would she, Jerry -- would she be a good mayor of New York?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Excellent. Excellent. She has at least one vote.

KING: I could see you as mayor. Wouldn't that job entice you?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Maybe.

KING: Broc -- it's in...

(CROSSTALK)

Brocton, Illinois, hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: This is for Judge Judy. KING: Yes.

CALLER: I was wondering, was there ever a case that you had that you regretted the decision?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: You know, I'm certain that when I left work at the end of the day that there were cases that I could have done differently. But when you're -- none that I've dealt with since I've left the bench. I think that I've tried those cases to do the best job I could, and as I did in the family court. But dealing with family issues, sometimes it could go either way, and I think that I made it a practice when I first started that I gave a case my all. It got 110 percent of my energy. I was motivated by nothing other than trying to get the best information that I possibly could. And then I just had to rely on my instinct and my judgment.

So I really didn't look back, if that answers your question.

KING: Jerry, you?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I don't think I ever regretted any decision that I've ever made.

KING: When you were a prosecutor, did you ever send someone away and then think twice about it?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: No.

KING: Never had that happen. Interesting.

Salinas, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi. I was wondering -- this is for both judges -- on either of their programs, are any of the litigants ever held liable for maybe being involved criminally, because sometimes, you know, they may disclose that they had to forge a document or something like that?

KING: Excellent question. To your knowledge, if someone admitted to a crime, has there ever been an arrest from one of these shows?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Well, there hasn't been an arrest, but I've had situations where I refused to allow a litigant to call a witness who I knew was about a testify to something which would incriminate them in a criminal matter, and that's happened on several occasions.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: That's happened to me, too, but in addition, I have interviewed several children during cases on the program, and interviewed them, but privately. When I say privately, much to the chagrin of my producers, privately. I take them in the back, and I take off my robe, and I talk to them. And as a result of those interviews, there have been several cases where I honestly believed that there was at least neglect of those children, if not abuse.

KING: Did you ever put it on?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: And it was referred on to the appropriate jurisdiction to take action.

KING: Back with our remaining moments with the Sheindlins -- delightful couple -- right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Any thoughts on Bobby Knight getting fired, anger management?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: When you're a hero, you're supposed to set an example. That's it. Whether you're a hero in sports...

KING: You can't lose your temper.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Whether you're in sports, whether you're a television personality, a movie personality, but especially in sports. They deal with children, and children are supposed to know that you're supposed to be a good sport. That's what you teach them, from the time they're in kindergarten. Be a good sport.

And here you have a coach of a team who is not teaching that, along with teaching how to play good ball.

KING: How do you like celebrity, judge?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I am handling it, Larry.

KING: Are you enjoying it? Some people enjoy it.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: It has -- yes.

KING: Do you enjoy recognition? Hey, Judge Jerry...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: I like it. We recently came back from Paris. So we're used to going into a restaurant in New York and people say, oh, there's Judge Judy, let's -- and Judge Judy's husband. That's my name.

KING: Judge Judy's Paris.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: So in Paris, her show is not broadcast, as it is in some other foreign countries. I walked into a restaurant and I say, we need a table. And they said -- five-star restaurant -- October 19.

I said, no, no, no. You see the lady standing over there, No. 1 TV show in the United States, very famous person. He said, Really? He says, OK, October 18.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: How do you handle it now? You've been famous for a long time now.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: I just go about my business. I do the same thing. I eat in the same restaurants. I have my bagel in the same coffee shop ever morning, just like you.

KING: Me, too. I...

JUDY SHEINDLIN: You have...

KING: I decided don't change.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Don't change. Celebrity came to us late in our lives. You know, we'd already had successful careers. We really know what's important and what's not. What's important is that we see our kids all the time and our grandchildren all the time, spend a little time with each other, take a vacation once in a while, work a little bit, and just enjoy this period.

KING: What makes a good judge?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Patience, intelligence, and an innate ability to see the right thing. That makes a terrific judge.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Common sense and street smarts, and the ability and the desire to gather all the information you can, because a trial is supposed to be the search for the truth, not about who's wearing a nicer tie. And unless you're willing to shun everything else -- politics, whether it helps your career -- and just devote yourself to that search for the truth don't be a judge.

KING: Louis Niser (ph) told me once of all the cases he ever handled the worst are contested divorces. They're worse than the victim sitting in a front row in a murder trial -- the anger.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: The worst.

KING: Right?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: The worst.

KING: When love turns to hate?

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes, yes.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Well, that's true. I think...

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Because you're not dealing with what the right thing is. You're dealing with raw emotion where one side just wants to really hurt...

KING: And children become pawns all the time.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Yes.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: And children are used. Children...

KING: Family court's tough, isn't it?

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Family court is a very tough place. You know, the phrase that I'd like to use is you're supposed to love your children more than you hate each other when you're divorcing. You didn't bring your children into the world to torture them.

If some stranger did to your children emotionally what you're doing to your children, you would rip their heart out through their throat, right? And yet, look at what you're doing. You're turning your children into spies. You're starving them because you want this divorce to proceed quickly, so you're not sending any money to support them.

Could you do that?

You have to love your children more than you hate each other. And if the people followed that, we'd have a much simpler court system.

KING: I was strolling the other day in Beverly Hills, and Larry Gelbart, the great comedy writer, was walking along with his little granddaughter on his shoulder. And he said: "Do you know why grandchildren and grandparents get along so well? They have a common enemy."

(LAUGHTER)

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Right.

KING: Thank you, judges.

JERRY SHEINDLIN: Thanks a lot.

JUDY SHEINDLIN: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Always great.

Great. Hope it doesn't take a year to have them back again.

Judge Sheindlin, entering his second year, Judge Jerry, as the host of "The People's Court." Judge Judy now in the fifth year, the host of "Judge Judy."

Tomorrow night, Charlie Rose joins us. On Thursday, Peter Jennings. And Friday night, a major program on the subject of breast cancer.

Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned for CNN "NEWSSTAND."

I'm Larry King in New York. Good night.

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