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Interview With Judge Judy

Aired November 13, 2006 - 21:00   ET


JUDITH SHEINDLIN, "JUDGE JUDY": You want to be stupid you pay.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight...

SHEINDLIN: That didn't require an answer smarty pants.

KING: ...Judge Judy she's back, straight answers as only she can give them to tough questions, including yours.

SHEINDLIN: Don't ever interrupt me.

KING: Judge Judy she takes no nonsense but she'll take your calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: It's Monday so this must be Judge Judy. She's become our regular visitor here and it's always great to see her. Judge Judy Sheindlin, retired New York Family Court judge, the best-selling author in her eleventh season on television's syndicated "Judge Judy Show," which is seen now literally everywhere around the world.

How do you explain eleven years?

SHEINDLIN: I don't know, luck I suppose has a great deal to do with it.

KING: Plays a part in it.

SHEINDLIN: Plays a part in it and I prepared myself I think for the 25 years that I sat in the Family Court, you know. I was -- I prepared myself. I developed an understanding of people what motivates them and what's right and what's wrong. I think I started out with a reasonable moral compass that you get from your family. And then there's always that element of luck.

KING: If I had seen you in family court would I have seen the same person I see on television?

SHEINDLIN: A little younger, a little younger.

KING: No, but the same attitude, the same attitude?

SHEINDLIN: But same, yes, this is not... KING: You were tough?

SHEINDLIN: I was practical and, yes, tough. I believe that people who make children should support them. I believe that you're supposed to have a little respect for those people who came before you, your parents.

I think that elder abuse in this country, which is a burgeoning crime, is horrendous. I think that we don't revere the elderly as we should. I think that if you're going to create families you have to be prepared to be responsible. That's not tough, Larry. That is practical.

KING: Is child custody the toughest when the man wants custody, the woman wants custody?

SHEINDLIN: I think that when you start out with a custody determination in court you should start out with a clean slate and that means that both parents are equally able and capable of taking care of children unless one or the other demonstrates the opposite, so that should be the clear standard that both people should have equal input, both parents should have equal input in the lives of their children.

And, if you start out with that as a criteria and people know that, then there's not going to be that jockeying for position, which very often has a financial implication. All too often when there are custody battles the best interest of the children somehow fall by the wayside.

KING: Does it ever after all these years get repetitive? Do you ever sit there and say, "Here comes another guy with this problem?"

SHEINDLIN: Yes. Yes, it becomes repetitive.

KING: So, how do you deal with it to get revved?

SHEINDLIN: I don't know. I enjoy what I do and each -- while the cases somehow have a similar ring to it after, you know, after 30 or some odd years, what you do is you look at the personalities.

And, if you really are good at what you do, and I think, I Like to think that I'm good at what I do, you have an opportunity to touch the person that's before you in a very different way from the way they've been touched before.

So, even though the story may be the same if I can grab that person and say to them, "Listen, don't make a big magilla out of this little problem. It's a tea service. It's not urgently important. It's a sofa bed. Who cares? You've been litigating over this sofa bed now for two years.

It's been taking away -- sucking out all the good in you for two years. Get over it. Put a period and move on. And, if I can cajole them into doing that, I've done a good thing. I've done a mitzvah. KING: All things being equal, by the way we'll be taking your phone calls and we'll be also giving you off the air definitions of mitzvah, little joke.

Is it generally a rule in a custody case...

SHEINDLIN: Mitzvah, good deed.

KING: Yes, I know. Is it generally a rule in a custody case that the woman has the edge?

SHEINDLIN: Well it should not be. That's not the law. The law in this -- in every jurisdiction that I know of is that parents stand on an equal footing. Unfortunately, many of the services that serve the matrimonial courts, psychiatrists, psychologists, bring their own predisposition in that regard and they still say that, well, children of tender years belong with their mother because of this nurturing.

Well the truth of the matter is that's not always true anymore. Mothers are career women just as fathers have careers and businesses and very often now we say to fathers, "You have to assume half the responsibility of these kids, you know. You made them. We're going to take parenting together. We're going to be in there in the delivery room together. We're going to take six months off. I'll take three. You take three. You're going to change the diapers just like I do and men buy into that."

All of a sudden when the marriage is over we say "Just a second, you're a second class citizen, you don't deserve even our consideration as being the primary parent." So that's why I think that if you started out with the premise that each parent is supposed to have 50 percent of a child's time so that a child can enjoy a good relationship with both parents, we would do away with a lot of the custody battles.

KING: Let's get an e-mail. We have many e-mails for Judge Judy, including your phone calls coming up.

This is from Bill in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. "Have you ever been wrong and tried to fix it?"

SHEINDLIN: I cannot think of a court case where after due deliberation and trying to get all the facts I made the kind of mistake that I wanted to undo and do over again.

KING: Never?

SHEINDLIN: Not that I can remember. That may be because I have a faulty memory and it may be because when you do thousands of cases and you try to do your best in each one, you try to get the quality information and make a decision and it's not about politics and it's not about who's winking at you, then if you've done your best you can't look back.

Sometimes circumstances themselves tell you that you made a mistake. If I give custody to a woman of her children and she has a drug problem and a year later she has another drug addicted baby, well I've made a mistake.

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: I've made a mistake and that has happened to me but I have the opportunity then to correct that mistake.

KING: To rectify it. Explain this community property law is that good or bad? That what it divided, everything is divided since the (INAUDIBLE) how does it work?

SHEINDLIN: Well once -- community property is once a couple gets married everything that they have and that they acquire during the marriage is presumed to be 50 percent his and 50 percent hers. That's what a community property state is generally.

KING: Do you like that?

SHEINDLIN: Do I like that? Sometimes, sometimes it's fair and sometimes it's not. I think that if you have a marriage of short duration then it can become very unfair. I think that people have to plan.

And we've spoken before and I might have mentioned it here, I don't know, my idea about having marriage licenses list on the marriage license what property you're coming into the marriage with that is not community property that if the marriage terminates and 52 percent of the marriages we know terminate, that that property is not an issue that property that you're coming into, the car, the condo, the bank account, the 401K, whatever it is. This is his. This is hers. Let's not even talk about that.

KING: Do you like no fault?

SHEINDLIN: Do I like no fault divorce? Yes, I do. Yes, I do. As a matter of fact...

KING: Most states have it now, right?

SHEINDLIN: Practically every state has, believe it or not, except New York State. New York State is one of -- is either the only one...

KING: So you have contested divorces?

SHEINDLIN: ...the only one or one of very few this enlightened cosmopolitan Mecca that still says you have to find fault. And recently the Miller Commission took testimony. Sandra Miller (ph) chaired that commission and she's a wonderful lady. She was a justice in the Appellate Division in New York State.

And they couldn't understand why after years of fighting and bickering we cannot get or you cannot get in New York past a law that says, "If the marriage is over, why should people have to lie in an affidavit and say 'He abandoned me, she committed adultery, we haven't slept together in three years," whatever the lie is? Why can't you just resolve marriages that don't work out by saying, "Look, you have to resolve custody issues. You have to resolve financial issues. You have to resolve every other issue. But the issue of the raise itself, the marriage itself, if it's over it's over. It's just reality.

KING: More with Judge Judy in a minute. We'll be taking your phone calls. We'll be giving her e-mails that we've received as well on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he promised me he would take (INAUDIBLE).

SHEINDLIN: Listen, do you have any idea of the cost of my legal education?


SHEINDLIN: Do you actually think that I'm going to sit here and figure out who used the phone during peak time? This is not a commercial.


SHEINDLIN: I don't care. You want to be stupid you pay.




SHEINDLIN: How did her face get cut like that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I kicked her feet when I (INAUDIBLE).

SHEINDLIN: You tripped her?


SHEINDLIN: That's what you're say in your answer.


SHEINDLIN: You tripped her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And she fell right and hit the door and split her chin open. Once I seen blood and she started screaming I figured the cops would be there real quick so I basically bounced.

SHEINDLIN: What a prince.


SHEINDLIN: That didn't require an answer smarty pants.


KING: We're back with Judge Judy. Do you have any problems with adoptions like Madonna adopting a little African boy?

SHEINDLIN: I don't have any problems with it. I think that people ascribe all kinds of negative motives to her, which I think is what the press is talking about now. And I thought about it. And, I don't know what her motives were.

There is nothing to suggest that they're anything but benevolent, you know, wanting to give a child a life and she's clearly going to give this child a different life than the child would have in Malawi, right?

KING: Same with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt?

SHEINDLIN: Yes and they're bringing more importantly than that they -- whether you like it or not I never knew that Malawi existed. I don't know about you but I didn't know about this little tiny country and I didn't know that this was a country where there were really just two age categories, very young and very old because the whole middle group were all gone.

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: Because they died. So, her bringing, focusing attention, world attention on this little country is a positive thing. So, let's -- if you examine it, irrespective of motive and I don't know what they are because I'm not inside the lady's head, she has given the child a life that the child could never have but for her intervention. And she's focused attention on it.

And the same thing really with Angelina Jolie, you know. I mean would I want to go from continent to continent and adopt children? The answer is I wouldn't. I have enough children and I have enough grandchildren. But here's a lady who says "This is what I want to do." What are her motives?

KING: Why would someone be angry at that?

SHEINDLIN: Because I...

KING: Upset?

SHEINDLIN: Because I think people with regard to Madonna's adoption, the complaint was that she used her celebrity to get around the laws of Malawi and other people couldn't do it and she sort of bought her way into it.

And the truth of the matter is, Larry, when you think about it, and you and I both know this, in this country if you want to adopt a child in this country and if you've got money, the adoption goes much faster.

KING: You're not kidding.

SHEINDLIN: Than it would if you don't have money. So, what difference does it make as long as she's doing good?

KING: What do you think of gay couples adopting?

SHEINDLIN: I have no problem with that either. You make a family. If you are a gay couple committed to each other or a single person, I mean the single homosexual or heterosexual and you want to have a family and there's a child that needs a family and you're a responsible person, what difference does it make?

KING: I want to talk to you about an extraordinary case in California in a moment.

First, let's take an e-mail from Jennifer in Toronto, Ontario. "I've always enjoyed your show. What would have been your second career choice? Have you ever considered running for office?"

SHEINDLIN: I did for a while back when I was a fresh young lawyer.

KING: Judicial office?

SHEINDLIN: Not -- no, office. My father used to say, "You should be the mayor of the city of New York." Politics has become a very dirty business and I think that that discourages a lot of people from otherwise going into politics because certainly you're not going in it for the money. It doesn't pay an enormous amount of money.

You're going in it for the power, really for -- that's it for the power and the celebrity of it. You also want to do good. Hopefully you want to do good. But that's the thing that draws politicians into politics, the power and the celebrity of it.

Well, I got the celebrity and the truth of the matter is as a judge you got a lot of power. You know you can make things happen and it's not a democracy. It's a monarchy when you're a judge. So, I've got the best of both worlds.

KING: Let me ask you about this California case. In 2003, LAPD detectives announced they finally solved a 30-year-old rape and murder case. The suspect, 80-year-old Alfred Laudenberg (ph), they asked to meet him at a coffee shop to talk about an unrelated case. They did a DNA analysis from the coffee cup.

A prosecution witness in the trial told the jury there's a one in ten million chance of finding someone else's DNA could match. Defense attorneys are now pushing to have the DNA evidence thrown out because of the way it was acquired without the suspect's permission. He's 80 years old.

SHEINDLIN: I don't care if he's 80 years old, 800 years old or eight years old, if this man's DNA is tied to a serial rapist 25 years ago and he had alluded -- first of all you don't get better if you're a serial rapist. You don't get better if you're a pedophile. So, something has happened over that 25 years unless somebody did some really major surgery on this guy, which I haven't heard about so that what difference does it make? If you have good evidence, one of the things that I never understood about the system is you got good...

KING: It isn't good evidence if you attained it wrongly.

SHEINDLIN: You didn't obtain it wrongly. Why did you obtain it wrongly? He went to a restaurant.

KING: They said, "Meet me at the coffee shop to discuss this" and you take his fingerprints. You were setting him up, right?

SHEINDLIN: Right so what's wrong with that?

KING: I don't know.

SHEINDLIN: What's wrong with that?

KING: I don't know if it's legal.

SHEINDLIN: What's wrong? There's nothing wrong with that. There is a difference, should be a difference and if there isn't there should be a difference in this country in the jurisprudential system between evidence that's acquired that is suspect and evidence that is acquired that is good evidence that shows that someone is either innocent or guilty.

Let me give you an example, Larry. If you torture somebody into confessing to a crime, the evidence obtained as a result of that force is suspect because sometimes you'll say, "I'll confess to anything," you know, confess to the Lindbergh killing, you know, just stop so the evidence is suspect.

But when you stop somebody on the street and on marginal suspicion and they have -- because you're a cop and you know and they have a .357 magnum in their waistband, unlicensed, that's good evidence. You can see it. You can smell it. You can taste it. It's good evidence and you wouldn't want it in your bedroom.

KING: But you don't want someone going into a house without a warrant no matter what they find.

SHEINDLIN: No, I think that you need, unless there are exigent circumstances, if you're chasing somebody from a crime scene.

KING: I don't mean that.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, you have to get a warrant in order to go into somebody's home because the home is sacrosanct. But this guy, look, do you remember years ago, it wasn't so long ago they had outstanding warrants in a jurisdiction on felonies and misdemeanors and the warrant squad, there was a limited warrant squad and they couldn't sent them out to get all these hundreds and hundreds of guys.

So they sent them all letters and they told them that they won front row baseball or football tickets. "Please you have to report to this, you know, cafeteria to collect your tickets." You come in. You sign in. Everybody is going to get their tickets and $100. And they got them all. Did they trick them?

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, who cares?

KING: We'll take a break and be right back with Judge Judy on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE -- who cares -- don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: Because as far as I'm concerned each of you is responsible for what happened that night equally.


SHEINDLIN: Because -- I don't give a rat's behind, sir, whether you agree with me or not. My life is not geared towards whether or not some 20-year-old brat who doesn't know the right thing to do agrees with me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just figured I'd let you know, ma'am. I just figured I'd let you know.

SHEINDLIN: Listen to me. Listen to me. Why don't you just continue making pizzas?



KING: We're back with Judge Judy.

Let's get in another e-mail, this from Ralph in Greenville, Michigan. "Why do folks on Judge Judy get so upset all the while know that any financial judgment against them will be paid by the show?"

SHEINDLIN: Oh, because if a case is dismissed it's dismissed. And if I tell them to sign over the title to a car, they sign over the title to the car. And, if I tell them that they have to exchange the property the marshal enforces that order. And they get upset because most of the people who come on the show believe that they're right.

KING: They're right.

SHEINDLIN: And that's the important thing to them. You know we're not talking, I know it's sometimes talking about a lot of money, when you talk about $5,000 but $5,000 in the scheme of a whole lifetime isn't going to alter, modify your whole life. That's not the issue. The issue is vindication of their position.

KING: What do you think of "Dateline" in their set-up series where they lure pedophiles into a house by having some girl tape messages to them, tape the whole thing and then entrap and grab them? SHEINDLIN: Oh, you use that almost dead word "entrapment."

KING: Well it is entrapment. What else is it?

SHEINDLIN: Oh, I don't think it's entrapment because...

KING: That's not entrapment?

SHEINDLIN: No, I don't think it's entrapment at all.

KING: How did they get them there by entrapping them?

SHEINDLIN: What they did was they put a message on the Internet and they got these perverts instead of seducing an actual 10, 11, 12, or 13-year-old child, they got a cop to pose as this child to say, "We want to get you off the street. We want to expose who you are."

It does several things: a) it shows parents the negative power of the Internet and says to them "You better be vigilant. You don't leave your kids alone without knowing what they're doing because they're not always playing video games, you know, or e-mailing their friends or doing their homework."

These animals are out there and they're cunning and they're clever and you have to be vigilant as parents in today's world. It was different years ago but today's world is different.

And secondly, you are exposing these people because some of them, I mean I've been watching it with some glee that these people have been exposed because these aren't all perverts from the sewer. These are people...

KING: Some of them are weird.

SHEINDLIN: These are people who they had a rabbi.

KING: I know.

SHEINDLIN: They had a schoolteacher. They had an engineer. They had a physician.

KING: Do you know if the cases have held up in court?

SHEINDLIN: I don't know but I assume that they should. I assume that they should because, well I don't know, because you remember years ago they had an expose, I don't know if it was "Dateline," in a supermarket showing the dirty food and how they repackaged food and took the dates off meat and put on different labels?

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: And the supermarket sued the television production company.

KING: And won I think. SHEINDLIN: And won, lunacy, who is supposed to monitor them? If not for vigilant journalism, how is the public going to be protected? We got two inspectors in the city of New York. You got two inspectors in the city of Chicago. Who's going to monitor all these places?

So, if you've got journalists who are prepared to do that and then you issue these lunatic rulings and said, "Well, you have to pay the supermarket that was not only defrauding the public but seriously placing their health at risk and now you got to pay them $100,000." It's lunacy.

KING: Why do you think some of these pedophiles act fine? I mean they don't seem upset. Doesn't that seem weird to you?

SHEINDLIN: You mean if they could break down and cry?

KING: (INAUDIBLE) no they don't break down and cry.

SHEINDLIN: They don't break down and cry. Maybe it's the cost of doing business. Larry, you have to understand that the first time these people hooked up with a 13-year-old was not for "Dateline."

KING: Yes, right.

SHEINDLIN: It was before. You know we talk about that with criminals all the time. If you got caught -- if you get caught the first time, you commit a robbery, you don't do it again.

What happens is you commit ten robberies. You rob ten banks and ultimately you get caught. And when you get caught and the judicial system now says, "Listen, first offense, you're going to do five years, good behavior you're going to be out in three."

OK, so the cost of doing business you have robbed now eleven banks and got three years. The second time -- so you get out and then you rob another ten banks, on the eleventh one you get busted again. It's the cost of doing business.

These pedophiles have been in business for years. Good for "Dateline" exposing them. Everybody who is their neighbor will keep their children a little bit safe. And then you've got what we talked about before, good evidence.

KING: We'll take a break and be back, more e-mails and your phone calls for Judge Judy. Don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: While you were living together did either of you abuse drugs?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She smoked marijuana. SHEINDLIN: Not you?


SHEINDLIN: Well then why did you just say "she"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She did it a lot more than I did, Your Honor. She needs to go to rehab.

SHEINDLIN: Just a second. Are you an only child?


SHEINDLIN: Are you the oldest or the youngest?


SHEINDLIN: How did they turn out?


SHEINDLIN: Fine. Should have stopped at two, judgment for the plaintiff in the amount of $3,000, that's all, step out.



KING: We're back with Judge Judy. She's in her eleventh year, a major television success. She's seen everywhere in the world.

To prove it, our next e-mail is from Adelaide, Australia. It's Adam in Adelaide: Have there been particular cases you've presided over that have particularly affected you or stood out from the many others? If so, why?

SHEINDLIN: Yes. I had a case where a child was wrongfully removed from his mother's custody for eight years by the City of New York. And she was a Russian immigrant. And but for -- but for my intervention, she would have been deprived of custody, wrongfully deprived of custody of her child forever.

It was a very sad case. It took a very long time to try. It's one of those cases that stuck with me forever. Most -- mostly it's the custody cases that stick with you because -- because of the children and because of the grief that parents cause their children. Those are the ones that stay with you.

KING: Lawrence, Kansas, as we go to calls.


CALLER: As a public schoolteacher I draw a lot of inspiration from your show. And I was wondering if you have any advice for teachers, who are dealing with students who have poor behavior and are coming from family situations that you handle daily? SHEINDLIN: You know, it's interesting. My husband and I were in the car coming here today. And I don't know how we got on the discussion of school -- a school or a camp, a one-week camp for children to teach them manners and socialization. You know, teaching them how to eat properly, teaching them how to address their elders.

The problem that I see with public schools these days, is that there is insufficient discipline and control. You know, when I see kids walk into high school wearing jeans that are just held together by a bare thread and exposed torsos and dungarees down, you know, way past where they should be in the back, I say to myself, what kind of respect do you have for a system that allows children to come to school like that.

You know, we went to school and we wore -- Fridays was assembly day, you wore white shirt and you wore this -- there was a certain structure. And I am convinced that children like structure. They thrive in structure from the time they're infants. You know, we swaddle them and we keep them close.

There was some study done that in Asia, if you keep the child close to you until they're 5 years old, they grow up and have a more confident sense of self. So structure is a good thing.

And what happened over the last fifty years in this country, was we're saying, well, we want everybody to think free, we want everybody to be able to express themselves.

As a result of it, you've got a whole generation of pink hair and piercings, which, as far as I'm concerned, doesn't serve anybody, especially the children. So I think that structure is a good thing for teachers to have in today's school system.

KING: Boria, Kentucky.


CALLER: Hi. How are you doing tonight?


CALLER: I have a question. You talked about parents being 50/50, fathers 50, mothers 50 percent. What about the fathers that do not want to help out and practically live around the corner and just have nothing to do with the children?

SHEINDLIN: Well, that's a sad state of affairs for the children. What I'm saying is you start out with that premise, that parents are equal with regard to the custody of their children.

But if one parent is disinterested, if a father lives around the corner and he doesn't want to see his children, that's not only his loss, but that's the children's loss, because the children are entitled to have the input of two parents.

You can't force feed a parent into wanting to take on the responsibility. What we're talking about is discouraging these custody battles. If you've got a father who doesn't want custody, terrific, there's no battle.

But if you have two parents that say, listen, we're equal, then what courts should try to do is to work out a scenario where each parent will have the opportunity of spending quality constructive time with their children.

KING: What do you think of the Congressman Mark Foley matter, in dealing with a page, in this 17, 16 years old, that's not pedophilia, is it?


KING: It is to you. That's pedophilia?

SHEINDLIN: Sure is. He's -- he's 50 and there's a 16 year-old person, who is in an inferior position. Here you have someone who is powerful, in control, not necessarily in control of your life, but you know that this person could be important to you, is a hero, is a Congressman.

That's why you're there, you are there in Congress because that's the seat of power in this country. And here you've got some jerk sending you lewd and lascivious e-mails.

It's a 16 year-old, you know, you've had 16 year-old kids, I've had 16 year-old kids. I have kids now who are much older than 16. They're just about getting cooked, 16 years old is a baby, is a baby. And yes, 16 years old and a 50 year-old man, that's pedophilia, no question.

KING: And 17 years old, too?


KING: Is there any difference there?


KING: Giuliani took the first step today to -- I know you're a fellow New Yorker -- to running for mayor -- for running for president. What do you think?

SHEINDLIN: Well, I think it'll be an interesting couple of years. I was thinking the other morning. I do some of my best thinking when I -- just before I get up in the morning.

And I was listening and watching the "Mclaughlin Report" and they were talking about whether this year's election was against the Republicans or pro-Democrats, and whether they felt it was a vote for somebody or against somebody.

And the truth of the matter is when I sat down -- I'm a great girl for of analogies. You and I live in a small town, Larry. You have Larry's Restaurant, I have Judy's Restaurant. Judy's Restaurant is more popular and it's been getting all the business. You manage to get by. Judy's Restaurant, after a period of time, got sloppy. It got all the business, got a little dirty, food went downhill.

And all of a sudden people started to see a couple of roaches on the table. You know what, we don't want to eat here anymore. We're going to go try Larry's. Maybe Larry's picked up.

So people instead of coming to Judy's Restaurant, they now go to Larry's Restaurant. And if Larry is smart, he's going to maintain a clean establishment. He's going to serve good food. He's not going to get crazy. If it's to the left or to the right, he's not going to have knew nouvelle cuisine or fancy Tex Mex. He's going to serve good quality food. And if he serves good quality food in two years, you've got a chance of a sweep.

And if they don't serve good quality food, they're going to say, listen, we always liked Judy's, let's go back to see if she's cleaned up her act.

So that's what I think about Giuliani.

KING: Well put.

Judge Judy Sheindlin is our guest.

Back with more calls and e-mails after this.


SHEINDLIN: Mr. Sellers, how old are you, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-three, ma'am.

SHEINDLIN: Did it surprise you to know that you were coming to court this morning?


SHEINDLIN: Really? When did you find out you were coming to court this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple of weeks ago.

SHEINDLIN: Did you prepare your outfit for the last two weeks, Mr. Sellers?



SHEINDLIN: Have you ever been to court before, Mr. Sellers?


SHEINDLIN: Did you wear "Loving the Good Life" when you went into court? (LAUGHTER)



KING: That last thing going to break, of the young man dressed improperly. What on earth does that have to do with right or wrong in the court?

SHEINDLIN: It has to do with respect for our systems.

KING: Nothing to do with the case.

SHEINDLIN: Well, it had nothing to do with the case but it had something to do with this young man walking into a courtroom, which is even a small claims courtroom, because he would have worn the same thing if he were in any courtroom.

The seat of justice in this country and showing such marked disrespect for the entire judicial system that it may not have effected the judgment in the case, and I'm sure it didn't affect the judgment. I mean, I don't remember the case, but it didn't affect the judgment.

But certainly somebody had to call him on it. Remember we talked a moment ago about going to school with your jeans down below your behind? Same kind of thing. If you wouldn't go to church wearing this, if you wouldn't go to a funeral dressed inappropriately, why in the world would you come to a courthouse, where you want to be believed, where you want people to take you seriously, dressed like an idiot?

KING: Does it affect your belief in his case?


KING: That's all.

SHEINDLIN: But if judgment played an issue in his position, if for instance this was a custody case in the family court and somebody came in saying, you know, screw the justice system on their T-shirt, would that give me some indication that this is not a person that I would entrust children with? Absolutely.

KING: Calgary, Alberta, Canada, hello.

CALLER: Hello, (inaudible) this is Judge Judy. Hi, I have a question. I love your show. I just wanted to know how you weigh in on stem cell research. Thank you.

SHEINDLIN: There's no issue on stem cell research. I don't see any issue. I think that anybody who is opposed to stem cell research is living 500 years ago. Does that answer your question? I'm sorry I can't expand any further. KING: An e-mail from, get this, from Michael in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They love you, Judy. "If you ever retire, who do you want to replace you in your chair? And how do you want to be remembered?"

SHEINDLIN: I don't know if I want anybody to replace me in my chair. I know somebody will come along. They will find somebody who is feisty and tough.

KING: There's always somebody else.

SHEINDLIN: There's always somebody else. How do I want to be remembered? As somebody who spoke her mind honestly and who did justice in the best way she could.

KING: Can't ask more than that. Watertown, South Dakota, hello.

CALLER: Hi, I have a divorce question. I've been separated from my husband now for six years. And I've seen two or three lawyers and with my income, I cannot afford a lawyer for this. Is there any way to go about getting a divorce by just getting papers and going through the court system yourself?

SHEINDLIN: Well, if you're in a no fault state, while I don't particularly ascribe to people filling out their own papers, it seems to me that after six years...

KING: ... It can be done? Isn't there a place?

SHEINDLIN: Yes, there are services that can do it, but they're done by non-lawyers. I don't know why anybody is separated for six years if their marriage is irretrievably broken down. I mean, that's taken away six good years for you and it's taken away six good years for your separated husband.

And if there are no issues, there were no financial issues or custody issues, I don't see why you've been through two lawyers. And if there are issues, then you can't do it without a lawyer.

KING: Anderson Cooper standing by, he will host "A.C. 360" at the top of the hour. What's up tonight, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, you know, the Democrats won the election with promises for a new plan for Iraq and now the rubber is hitting the road. Everything from phased withdrawal to including Iran in Syrian negotiations are now being floated. The question is, will any of it float with a president who still has veto power?

Plus, another hat, what could be a very intriguing hat was thrown into presidential sweepstakes today. Former New York Major Rudy Giuliani announcing he's forming an exploratory committee in a bid for the White House. That could shake things up for another Republican who's also mulling a run, Senator John McCain. We'll talk about all that ahead, Larry, at the top of the hour.

KING: Thanks, Anderson. That's "A.C. 360" at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. We'll be right back with more of Judge Judy after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: And now we've been holding back, but we have to deal with it. Major issue of our day, everyone is talking about this: Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. Do you have an opinion on this? Do you care about this?

SHEINDLIN: Do you care about this, Larry?

KING: Not too sure.

SHEINDLIN: Not too sure. Well, I'm not too sure. Other than the fact that I understand from sort of a mutual friend that Britney Spears, a sweet young girl, you know, became famous a little too fast and didn't know how to handle it all.

I don't know anything about him except that everybody seems to think he's a moron and now he's a moron who wants custody of his children. I think maybe between the two of them...

KING: Some morons get custody.

SHEINDLIN: ... Some morns get custody. Maybe between the two of them they can make one great parent. I don't know.

KING: They're supposing he has a tape of their honeymoon night, which he threatens to put on some Internet or something...


KING: Unless...

SHEINDLIN: ... I didn't hear that. That would be...

KING: Again, that's what I heard.

SHEINDLIN: ... That's what you heard. You're selling me what you bought and I'm going to tell you this.

That being the case, that would be all that I would need as a family court judge, hearing the custody case, to say you will never get custody of these children, never because the one thing parents have to understand is that it's really important for the welfare of children, even if you're married to an idiot. He's an idiot that you chose or she's an idiot that you chose, that the children feel good about both parents and not hate the other parent.

And you also want to make sure that the parent who has custody of the children is not depressed all the time because you're constantly harassing them. And constantly doing the wrong thing. So if there is any truth in that statement that he's threatening to go dirty, that would be the dispositive answer.

KING: Next call, Kamloops, British Columbia, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, Judge Judy. SHEINDLIN: Hi.

CALLER: I'm just wondering, I know -- well, in every case it's pretty much deserved when you call people morons and idiots and stuff like that when they come to say stupid stuff on your show. Have you ever had anyone try and lodge a complaint against you for embarrassing them?

SHEINDLIN: Well, they can't lodge a complaint against me, fortunately, in the television courtroom. I mean, they can logically...

KING: They can sue you?

SHEINDLIN: They can sue me, but, you know, they sign all kinds of papers.

KING: You can slander them?

SHEINDLIN: Well, you're not slandering them. I'm not calling somebody, you know, a pedophile. I'm not ascribing some venal disease to people. I'm saying to them, you know, he acted like an idiot, he acted like a moron, are you stupid? And you know, the truth is an absolute defense to any lawsuit. You understand that.

KING: I understand that.

SHEINDLIN: So that I'm not worried about being sued in the television courtroom. And in the real courtroom, when I came down heavy, and I did on people who just weren't getting it.

There's a Commission on Judicial Conduct and I was never brought up on charges with the Committee on Judicial Conduct. There were people that said, we don't like your style, you know, but they -- unfortunately they had to deal with me and, fortunately for me, it didn't matter.

KING: Another e-mail from Peter from Trekroner, Denmark: What is your opinion of the evolution against intelligent design debate?

He subtitles it, do you think a separate religions class, which includes Christianity, Islam and Judaism, could be one Constitutional and a viable solution to the conflict between evolution, intelligent design and creationism?

SHEINDLIN: Oh, my goodness.

How long did it take you to come up with that question?

KING: From Denmark. They think.

SHEINDLIN: From Denmark. They think.

I don't think that in school is the place for religion.

KING: So you would not teach creationism? SHEINDLIN: I would -- no, in school. I think that that should be left to parents. There are schools, there are Sunday schools, there are Saturday schools, there are Friday night schools, there are all kinds of schools that can supplement your children's education in religious training.

But I think that to separate children by religious predispositions in a classroom, something that's not only against the Constitution in this country, but not a good thing for children.

I think that thinking people understand that evolutionism is the way we grew in this world. And if you want to superimpose some sort of religious disposition on that, do it. But do it outside of the public school system that the public pays for.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments of Judge Judy. Don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: Oh, Ms. McKnight (ph), that's bologna. That's just so much bologna. Grow up. You made four children. You're being ruled here instead of here. The next time...


SHEINDLIN: Hey, hey, hey! You think I'm listening to you when you try to talk over me? Don't ever interrupt me.



KING: We're back with our remaining moments.

What's the kind of case you least like to hear?

SHEINDLIN: Child abuse. I think child abuse is the case that I find most abhorrent. And I cannot understand how a person, a parent, a grandparent, even a boyfriend, can mutilate and harm and burn and tie up and sexually molest a three year-old or a five year-old or a seven year-old.

I cannot understand why -- how a mother, even if she's addicted to drugs, will sell her eight year-old little girl for sex to get a couple of hits of crack. I can't -- I don't get that. I don't get that. And I don't know what to do.

You know, it was a problem in the family court, because you leave there and you say to yourself, you know, there are no answers. If you could test DNA and find out what, you know, what's in the brain causes that -- the ability to do that, I would say, you know, listen, you can have and you can't have, but we don't know what causes somebody to be able to do that to a child.

What causes a pedophile to kill a string of children? Children, you know, eight, six, eight, ten years old. I mean, I have no problem with killing them. And we talked about this before, because it's really the only way to cure a pedophile is to kill them. There is no other cure. And what has happened...

KING: You would capitally punish every convicted pedophile?

SHEINDLIN: Well, I mean, you know, unless you want to put them somewhere in the Sahara and make sure that they can't get away.

KING: This the would be a guess on your part, because so many of our guests have guessed at it. Why is pedophilia incurable?

SHEINDLIN: I no idea. I have no idea. Perhaps because it is so against nature that there is something so wrong with your wiring.

KING: So they can't help themselves, right? Obviously they can't help themselves?

SHEINDLIN: Well, I think that if they could help themselves...

KING: Who would do it?

SHEINDLIN: ... who would do it? Who would do it?

But then it comes down to, that's not a defense. I mean, my husband, when he tried a case once, that was the defense of the lawyer: he can't help himself. He can't help himself.

And your response has to be, you know, in sentencing, neither can I. This is what has to happen to you. You have to go away forever, because there is no capital punishment for pedophilia, you know, for sex offenses in our country.

KING: Do you believe in that theory, though, I think of compulsive behavior of -- you absolutely couldn't -- in the movie, "The Mark", which was a great movie about a guy who was a pedophile. And he described pedophilia as being in a car with no legs and no brake and at the bottom of the road is an eight year-old boy and you're the driver. Can't stop.

SHEINDLIN: Can't stop.

KING: Do you have any compassion for that?

SHEINDLIN: Do I have compassion for it? You know, my compassion is for the victim. My compassion is for the child, who, if they survive an act of pedophilia, will spend the rest of their lives a victim.

My sympathy -- my sympathy and compassion goes to the families of children who were killed by these pedophiles who can't control themselves. And, quite frankly, on a sympathy scale of one to ten, where is my sympathy for a pedophile?

About minus 50.

KING: But it's the case you least like to hear?

SHEINDLIN: Absolutely.

KING: How can people harm children?

SHEINDLIN: Right. I don't know.

KING: It almost boggles the mind.

SHEINDLIN: It does. You can understand why somebody would rob a bank. You can understand why somebody would steal a piece of jewelry. You can even understand why somebody would steal a car, either an adult or a kid would steal a car.

KING: You can even understand murder.

SHEINDLIN: Sometimes, sometimes. Absolutely. You know, especially with people who know each other, you know, their emotions...

KING: That's most murders, right?

SHEINDLIN: Right, most murders. Their emotions get the best of them. But that I cannot understand and neither can you, because you have your own children and you can't understand.

KING: Cannot.

Thank you, doll.

SHEINDLIN: Thank you always.

KING: Next time, wear something bright.

Judge Judy in her eleventh year, she keeps on keeping on. Seen across the nation and around the world.

Tomorrow, Roseanne Barr will join us. That will not be dull, either.

Right now we switch gears to New York City. Anderson Cooper stands by to host a very interesting edition of "AC 360" -- Anderson.


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