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Interview with Judge Judy

Aired May 21, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Judge Judy for the hour.

Bristol Palin look out.


JUDGE JUDY SHEINDLIN, HOST, "JUDGE JUDY": They've had some, in my judgment, poor role models over the last couple of years, with teenagers having children.


KING: Drew Peterson, listen up.


SHEINDLIN: As a woman, I would not be the fourth wife of somebody who lost a -- who lost a few before them.


KING: And if you think the Miss California controversy is over...


SHEINDLIN: You have to respect the fact that she has the right to say it.


KING: Plus, surprising comments about Michael Vick and dog fighting.


SHEINDLIN: I don't see why he can't play football again.


KING: Judge Judy brings down the gavel next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Always a great pleasure to welcome Judge Judy to LARRY KING LIVE. And this time we're both in New York, the place of our birth.

Judge Judy presides over the top-rated TV court show that bears her name. The show starts its 14th season in September. And we're betting around here it's going to be a success.

OK. Let's get right to it.

Unwed teen mom Bristol Palin, cover of "People" magazine, preaching abstinence.

Good choice to do that preaching?

SHEINDLIN: Well, she -- she's a celebrity because she has a certain amount of notoriety. I prefer to say celebrity than someone with notoriety. People know who she is.

People know that she's -- that, you know, she said if she had it to do all over again, she probably would have...

KING: Would not.

SHEINDLIN: ...practiced better. I think that teenagers look to people who are their own age to be role models. And they've have some, in my judgment, poor role models over the last couple of years, with teenagers having children. And I think that this is a young woman who is standing up and saying, I did it, I think -- although I love my baby and I'm going to try to be the best mother I can, if I had it to do all over again, I would have waited -- either waited or been a lot more careful, because it takes away part of my childhood and it takes away certain opportunities.

So I don't think she's all that bad.

KING: Do you think abstinence is a realistic message for teenagers?

You've been in family court for years, right?

Is it realistic?

SHEINDLIN: I've been in family court for years and I raised a whole bunch of teenagers.

KING: Correct.

SHEINDLIN: And I think that there are -- you say certain things to your children in the hopes of guiding them in the right direction. And after that, there's a whole lot of peer pressure that you have no control over as a parent. All you can do is set a reasonable example for your children and keep your fingers crossed.

KING: So then how would you use it as a teaching tool?

What would you say to kids, don't do it or if you're going to do it, be -- how would you handle that?

SHEINDLIN: I think that you would probably say to child, you have so few years when you are forming who you are going to be for the rest of your life. And if you make a mistake when you're 16 or 17 or 18, it really -- and having a child when you're a teenager, there's no question about it, is a mistake.

It can so devalue what your potential is. It makes it more of a struggle. It makes it more of a struggle for you to go to college and to go to professional school and even to find an appropriate mate, because the child -- the person with whom you've had a child is very rarely the person who you end up with.

KING: When a celebrity -- you've mentioned others in the past couple of years. When they do a thing like become pregnant -- and a lot of kids want to be well-known, whether right or wrong -- do you think that teen pregnancy kind of gets glamorous?

SHEINDLIN: I think that it has been glamorized by certain teen celebrities. And that's a mistake. So in that regard, while some people say Bristol Palin is not an appropriate spokesperson, I think that if she's honest -- and I think she's being honest when she says that were she to have this opportunity again, to have a relationship with someone, she would have either abstained or been a lot more careful.

KING: In other words, learn from me...

SHEINDLIN: Learn from me.

KING: Or don't do as I do.


KING: OK. Let's move on.

We have a tweet question from "Sharebear7997 (ph): "What is Judge Judy's opinion on the whole Michael Vick dog-fighting case? And do think he -- two years was enough time to be given?"

SHEINDLIN: I think probably, yes, if you don't view him as a threat to society. He suffered the loss of his liberty. He suffered financially. He suffered embarrassment and humiliation. And I think that now that he's on home confinement and doing work for which he had, I guess, no training -- I mean, he's going to be doing construction work at $10 an hour.

KING: Right.

SHEINDLIN: I think that your real question is, should he be allowed to play football again?

KING: That's the next question.


KING: He paid his debt.

SHEINDLIN: He paid his debt to society. He did it, I gather, reasonably well, because he was released after -- what was -- was it 19 months, something like that?

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: And if what he does is play football, I don't see why he can't play football again. I mean, if he were somebody who did -- if, instead of being a football player, if he were a surgeon and a really good surgeon, would you say, well, he shouldn't be able to practice his profession because we want to punish him, we want him to do something for which he is totally untrained?

I mean, that just doesn't make sense.

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: If the whole idea behind his incarceration -- the short-term incarceration -- is rehabilitation -- punishment and rehabilitation. And if that's what you're striving for and if you say he's served his time and he seems to have some remorse about what he did.

KING: He seems to, yes.

SHEINDLIN: He seems to. So that there is, hopefully, redemption.

KING: Isn't the purpose of the whole system rehabilitation?

SHEINDLIN: Well, Larry, that's part of the system, I think...

KING: Punishment is a purpose, too.

SHEINDLIN: I think punishment is part of it. Part of it is to keep society -- and a big piece is to keep society safe. For me, incarceration is supposed to keep the community safe from your behavior.

And if you don't -- because rehabilitation, despite the fact that we've spent trillions of dollars on various forms of rehabilitation, the recidivism rate is still skyrocketing in this country. So that we really haven't found the right formula for rehabilitation.

KING: Yes.

I heard someone said, why do we assume "habilitation?"



KING: How do we know there was ever an habilitation?


KING: OK. Some people -- and this is unbelievable -- heap more vitriol on Michael Vick than on men who beat their wives.

SHEINDLIN: I don't know...

KING: Is this animals are more highly regarded?

SHEINDLIN: I don't -- I don't know why they would do that. But if I had to speculate as to a reason, I would say because some people have the impression that a battered spouse has the ability to leave -- has the ability to open a door and walk away.

KING: Yes, they do.

SHEINDLIN: And an animal does not.

KING: In your history, do you believe in true remorse?

SHEINDLIN: I think that there are some people that feel sorry about what they've done. But you have to realize that I do believe, having been in the justice system for a long time, that most people who are incarcerated are incarcerated after having committed several crimes for which they were not caught. Now I know that's not a popular -- a popular speculation, but I think it's true.

KING: We're just getting started with Judge Judy.

Does she think we all know too much about everybody's business?

That and other things.

Stay with us.



SHEINDLIN: Is this a Michigan driver's license?


SHEINDLIN: I said get me a driver's license.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Well, I do have a driver's license. This is an...

SHEINDLIN: Get me a driver's license.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, can you run my driver's license, because it (INAUDIBLE)...

SHEINDLIN: No. I said get me a driver's license.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't have it on me.

SHEINDLIN: OK. Give it back to her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you could actually run this and...

SHEINDLIN: I don't have to do...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I actually took the test...

SHEINDLIN: Are you trying to talk over me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I'm just trying to...

SHEINDLIN: Then don't try to talk...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: so you can hear me.

SHEINDLIN: Then don't try to talk over me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Well, then listen to me.

SHEINDLIN: Listen to me. You listen to me, fresh mouth.


KING: We're back with my friend Judge Judy.

One reminder, my autobiography, "Larry King: My Remarkable Journey," is now available in hardcover everywhere books are sold, as is the audiotape, including a bonus CD interview of me.

Half the proceeds go to the Larry King Cardiac Foundation. I think it's a great read. Hope you like it, "My Remarkable Journey."

Judge Judy...


KING: Oh, you like it?

SHEINDLIN: It is a great read and it was and is a remarkable journey that's still going on.

KING: Yours ain't bad, either.

OK, what do you make of the cancer teen story?

Now this is mind-boggling. Here's a 13-year-old boy, Hodgkin's lymphoma, curable, his mother doesn't want him treated with chemo. He had one session and off they go, I believe. And she may be in Mexico.

What do you make of this legally?

SHEINDLIN: Well, medical neglect by a parent is something that is taken care of usually in the family courts. And it's very often a very tricky and dicey issue.

I know as a sitting family court judge, I had to make certain decisions with regard to treatment for children against the wishes of their parents. And it's always a daunting responsibility, because you'd like to think that parents have the best interests of their children in their hearts, in their reasoning.

This lady, I think, is being guided by some religious predisposition.

KING: Right.

SHEINDLIN: And that makes it less troublesome, if some -- for me, because if you're being guided by some religious predisposition and this child, who must have their own lawyer in court...

KING: Yes, he has one.

SHEINDLIN: And his own lawyer said, this is what he wants, these are his religious beliefs. I mean, this is not a child who is two or four.

KING: He's 13.

SHEINDLIN: A 13-year-old child. So you have to -- you have to, in some way, say, you have to give certain deference to the desires of a 13-year-old, as you would a 15-year-old in a custody case and a 13- year-old in a custody case.

KING: So they're saying if he came back, the judge wants to hear from him.

SHEINDLIN: That's right. That's right. And that's what should happen. They should come back and let the judge hear from the boy, hear from his lawyer and make a reasoned judgment based upon all the information. Nobody says that we all have the -- we have all of the answers when it comes to medical science.


SHEINDLIN: I mean, this is the kind of illness that, fortunately, has a high success rate, if treated -- if treated...

KING: Ninety-five percent.

SHEINDLIN: If treated with conventional -- the conventional medical wisdom. But there are situations where the success rate is not that high. And that makes it a little bit of a dicier issue.

KING: If the judge says he has to take the chemo, what do they do -- he's 13 -- strap him down to a table?

What do they do?

SHEINDLIN: That would be it. But you would hope...

KING: Strap him down?

SHEINDLIN: But you would hope that he has a father -- you don't what his father's position is, except that his father didn't go with...


SHEINDLIN: ... his mother.

And you would hope that someone can counsel him and give him both sides of the equation. Right now, he has the religious side of the equation and not necessarily both and what his prospects are. And he looked like an intelligent young boy.

KING: This sounds Solomon-esque.

SHEINDLIN: It is. It is, because what would happen, heaven forbid, if the boy was treated with conventional chemotherapy and he turned out to be among those 5 percent that was not successful?

That -- those are the kinds of decisions that, very often, you have to make as a family court judge.

KING: Don't family court judges have a lot of imponderables -- a lot like custody?

Are there custody cases where you actually don't know?

SHEINDLIN: Yes. You make the best judgment out of the best information that's presented to you. Sometimes you have to dig and get your own information. And if you -- if your judgment is not rendered by virtue of anything other than a pure heart, a good mind and all the information, then you have to say I did the best job I could.

KING: Are family judges trained?

Is there a place they go and get counsel as to how to do their job?

SHEINDLIN: Well, in New York, where I was a sitting judge, we had, every summer, judicial school. But...

KING: That's what I mean.

SHEINDLIN: But to answer your question, unfortunately, this -- the United States doesn't have what they have in many of the foreign countries, which is judge's schools. Before you get to the bench, you have to go through a process of becoming expert in the field -- in the areas to which you aspire.

You know, in the United States of America, there's a lot of on the job training. And, unfortunately, since the judicial process very often is political rather than capability...

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: find people who are ill-equipped to deal with family problems sitting in the family courts. It's a problem.

KING: Judge Judy's got more to say.

We'll talk about Miss California.

We'll talk about Drew Peterson.

I'll ask if she's ever regretted one of her own verdicts.

Back in 60 seconds,

Stick around.


KING: Welcome back.

Before we get back to other matters, we've got a big show coming up tomorrow -- "American Idol." Winner Kris, runner-up Adam, will all be here, with Ryan Seacrest, Paula Abdul and everybody from the final 10. And they'll all be back Monday answering your questions.

Got something you want to ask the Idols?

Go to and start typing.

While you're there, check out Danny Gokey's exclusive commentary. He's got another one for us about the finale. And you'll read it only at

Did you watch it last night?


KING: Have you watched it?

SHEINDLIN: No. Occasionally. Occasionally. But I'm not an "Idol" (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Why do you think America is so fascinated with it?

And they are.

SHEINDLIN: I know. They like a Cinderella story. They like a come-from-behind story. They like -- I -- you know, I remember when we were growing up there was...

KING: "Major Bowe's Amateur Hour."

SHEINDLIN: Yes. Right. And then there was something else.

KING: "Horris Height" (ph).

SHEINDLIN: Well, no. You're older than I am.


SHEINDLIN: Well, you are.

KING: Watch closely, folks. She'll never be back. (LAUGHTER)

SHEINDLIN: So we've had those programs for a long time.

KING: No, that's true.

SHEINDLIN: This is done very well. There's a lot of hoopla and there's a lot of excitement. There's a lot of adrenaline. And I think that there's so much bad stuff around us, that this is a wonderful form of escape.

KING: Maybe the ultimate reality show?

SHEINDLIN: It's just an ulti -- it's just a great escape. It's like going to the theater and seeing a great musical, as opposed to seeing something that's dour and sad.

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: They -- people come away from "Dancing With the Stars" and "Idol" with the same good feeling.

KING: More with Judge Judy right after this.


KING: You know all about the Drew Peterson case in Illinois. A badly decomposed human remains have been found on the Des Plaines River in Illinois. There's speculation that it could be those of Stacy Peterson. That's the fourth wife, who is missing.

Badly decomposed human remains found there.

Is there speculation -- do we word this -- what do we do with this?

Will forensics work?

SHEINDLIN: It should. I mean, you know...

KING: In other words, we'll know who that is?

SHEINDLIN: I don't know. I'm not an expert...

KING: I know you're not.

SHEINDLIN: I am not an expert in forensics. But I would assume that if they found a body and they found cells, that they could extract from the bone or the marrow that they're going to -- all they need is a couple of cells and they can be -- they can determine who it is.

KING: If they determine that the fourth -- that that's the fourth wife, does that force almost pre-judging completely the third wife case?

SHEINDLIN: I don't -- it shouldn't.

KING: No, it shouldn't.

SHEINDLIN: It shouldn't.

KING: Do we have...


KING: ...presumption of innocence in America?

SHEINDLIN: We're supposed to. For me, as a woman, I would not be the fourth wife of somebody who lost a few -- four of them -- at a very young age.


SHEINDLIN: I would think twice.



KING: OK. So, but -- but he's not going to be -- he's not going to be judged fairly, do you think -- or will he?

SHEINDLIN: To, I think -- I certainly hope he'll be judged fairly. And because, from what little I've seen of him, there was a certain arrogance about him.

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: And if he doesn't lose that arrogance before a jury, that's going to hurt him.

KING: Another tweeter from ArdyBee (ph), who asks: "What is Judge Judy's opinion on the hearsay law put in place specifically for Peterson?"

And he's guessing that he already knows your answer. This is the law really designed for this case.

SHEINDLIN: I don't understand what you -- what he means, hearsay.

KING: Well, there's a new law in Illinois...


KING: ...that brings into evidence things said by third parties in the past. He said to me two years ago that he was going to kill his wife. Now that used to be not admitted because it was hearsay...


KING: ...and it was before the fact. Now, according to Illinois law -- and they're going to go the Supreme Court, apparently -- they can bring it in, by Illinois law.

SHEINDLIN: Well, then if the Illinois legislature passed that law...

KING: They did.

SHEINDLIN: ...then they're going to be able to use that. I mean there are certain things that are in common -- there are certain things that are common law. There are certain things that are statutory. Certain rules of evidence -- most rules of evidence is statutory.

KING: Meaning?

SHEINDLIN: Meaning that the legislature has passed them. For good or for bad, the legislature has passed them. And hearsay is not admissible in criminal trials, usually because it's not reliable.

KING: Right.

SHEINDLIN: You know, it's like a telephone game -- you don't want to hear things that aren't reliable. You're hoping, in a trial, to have only reliable, credible evidence. And what one person says to another outside of the court process has to be based on some exception to the hearsay rule.

If it is a confession, that's hearsay. I mean, it is an out of court statement -- hearsay is an out of court statement offered for the truth of that statement. So a confession is an exception to the hearsay rule, if it's a good confession, even though it's a out of court statement. It's statutory.

KING: But this was said before the fact of the crime.

SHEINDLIN: Well, that shows his state of mind. If he said, I'm going to kill her, that goes to the state of mind prior to the commission of the act.

KING: A lot of legal folk, though, think the Supreme Court is going to throw it out, off the top...

SHEINDLIN: That's speculation...

KING: What do you think?

Yes, that's speculation.

SHEINDLIN: That's speculation. And, you know, we have two branches of government for a reason. The legislature is supposed to enact laws...

KING: That are Constitutional, though.


KING: They are, right? SHEINDLIN: Right. But if exceptions to the -- if hearsay itself is a statutory rule...

KING: I got you.

SHEINDLIN: ...and if you impose exceptions to the hearsay rule -- a dying declaration, for instance.

KING: Right.

SHEINDLIN: If you found her -- if you found this body and it's not being -- there was still a breath of life and she said...

KING: He did it.

SHEINDLIN: Drew did it, well, that's an exception to the hearsay rule -- it's a dying declaration. And there are certain specific reasons in this jurisdiction, in New York, how you admit that dying declaration. The person has to really be an extremist, you know, dying. Has to know or believe that they were dying. There are a whole group of them.

So I think that if a legislature makes a law, the Supreme Court really doesn't have -- unless it's unconstitutional...

KING: Like there were laws in the South, Jim Crow laws.

SHEINDLIN: Right. Unless it's unconstitutional -- against our Constitution, they really don't have the right to make legislation...

KING: That's what they're there for, right?


KING: To determine the Constitution.

The law never loses its fascination, does it?

SHEINDLIN: Not to me.

KING: Yes, not to me, either.

SHEINDLIN: Not to me.

KING: Elizabeth Edwards has let us in on problems in her private life.

What does Judge Judy think about all of that?

Should we know everything?

Find out next.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "JUDGE JUDY," COURTESY CBS) SHEINDLIN: When had you borrowed your grandmother's car?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's her car, Your Honor. It's just in my name because she's a minor.

SHEINDLIN: It's your car. It's not her car. If it's titled in your name, it's your car.


SHEINDLIN: If she kills somebody, they take your house, do you understand?


SHEINDLIN: It's your car.




KING: We're back with Judge Judy, starting her 14th year in September.

Did you ever think it?



SHEINDLIN: And it's gone by in a minute.

KING: And we'll get to some of those things we -- we teased you about earlier.

But right now, let's go to the Miss California USA controversy, touched off by her pageant answer opposing gay marriage.

What do you think of the whole fuss?

SHEINDLIN: I think that even if you disagree with her answer, as I do disagree with her answer, if you are a reasoned American, you have to respect the fact that she has the right to say it.

KING: Of course.

SHEINDLIN: And she, I believe -- and, you know, we've discussed gay marriage.

I've performed gay marriages.

KING: You have. Including Michael Feinstein's. SHEINDLIN: Correct.

But I think that she presented her answer honestly. If she gave a different answer, a more coached answer, it would have been dishonest for her. And there was a certain -- the word is not bravery, because I think she's not a stupid girl. I've heard her speak. So I think that she probably anticipated this kind of question. And she probably anticipated that this -- it would create a firestorm if she gave that answer, at least among some.

But she gave the answer. And I think that you have to be tolerant of the fact that some people's upbringing and religion put them in a position where they just are not comfortable, personally, with same-sex marriage.

KING: Do you think Americans are generally more tolerant? Knowledge, media --

SHEINDLIN: I believe that they are getting more tolerant. And I believe, Larry, that eventually we come to a central point.

I mean, if you would have said 20 years ago that six states in this country would pass legislation legitimatizing marriage between same-sex partners, you would have said to me, you're crazy, it's not going to happen.

KING: True.

SHEINDLIN: But, I think that people have come to accept the fact that gay Americans are terrific Americans. Jewish-Americans are terrific Americans. African-Americans are terrific Americans. White- Americans are terrific Americans. There's a place for everybody. And once you start to exclude people from the pot of this country, I think that the sense is -- my sense is that eventually the centrists will come to accept it.

KING: Why all this harshness and public debate? The vitriol, the nastiness?

SHEINDLIN: Sometimes I think it's for effect. You know, I listen to some people who scream and rant and rave about one side or another, whether it's the far left or the far right. And I say to myself, sometimes it's no different from people who tattoo all over their bodies or make their hair pink and orange, green -- you know, put holes in their faces. It's all, look at me, look at me, look at me.

And I think that it does them a disservice. I think the response to Miss California for instance, was over the top. I mean, I think that there were a lot of people who sort of apologized for their initial over the top reaction to her. Because when you have somebody who has a legitimate difference of opinion, you have to as a good citizen respect that.

I'm not talking about if you have a legitimate difference of opinion and say well, this particular group of people doesn't have the rights to the same education, the same medical care, the same rights that we do, just because.

I mean, that's what we fought a war about in this country. But when you go over the top, I think that it doesn't bode well for the legitimate issue that you're representing.

KING: Another question for Judge Judy tweeted to us on KingsThings -- that's our Tweet sign -- "Why do you have to call people idiots and morons on your show?"

You wouldn't do that on the street, would you? Well, maybe you would.

SHEINDLIN: You know, if I see somebody doing something wrong to a child, I would call them a lot worse than an idiot and a moron. I was a sitting family court judge. I had a certain way of conducting my courtroom.

The conduct of my television courtroom is not so different from the conduct of my family court courtroom. I rolled my eyes. I said things that probably other judges would not say. And I know there were people who said, "Her judicial demeanor is not the judicial demeanor that we ascribe to." But I do a television program, and the television program is entertainment.

Now, that doesn't mean that I act, it just doesn't mean that I hold myself back. And I don't think that if I called somebody an idiot if they are driving in a car with their child and indulge in an act of road rage, and they're trying to explain the legitimacy of their actions to me in speeding at 110 miles an hour because somebody cut them off with their two children in the back of the car, they're an idiot.

KING: You're not kidding.


KING: If they drink and drive, they're an idiot.

SHEINDLIN: They're an idiot.

KING: We'll be right back with more of the always fascinating, never dull Judge Judy.

Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Judge Judy.

We've been asking you to send me a question as part of my book launch this week. Today's remarkable question is from Joe Kirschenbaum (ph), who lives in Lowell, Massachusetts.

The question was, who's been my most controversial guest. This is a tough one because I've done so many over the years, people who say things, people who don't have much of a wire between the brain and the mouth. They're going to say controversial things. And controversial people often make for fascinating guests. I remember during the Watergate thing they were just too numerous to mention.

So you're going to get -- because you asked such a tough question, Joe, you're getting an autographed copy of "My Remarkable Life."

And so will you if I read your question on the air. Plus, you'll have a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles, meet me, and see our show live.

Go to, send a question. Good luck. I'd love to meet you. Hope you enjoy the book and the tape version as well.

Do you think you're controversial?


KING: Yes, I would agree. You're not the most, but you're controversial

SHEINDLIN: No, but you either like my style or don't.

KING: All right. Another tweet question from MelanieMusic1118 (ph), definitely a fan of yours, tweeted this: "I love Judge Judy. How do you keep a straight face and not laugh out loud at some of the ridiculous people in your court?"

SHEINDLIN: Well, because they come to the set of my program to have an issue resolved. And I think the vast majority of them want to have a certain closure to the issue that brought them to me. I mean, the cases that we do are very often emotional issues, because that's what makes the case interesting and the show popular.

So, even though somebody may say something that's bizarre, I know that they, right or wrong, rightly or wrongly, they legitimately believe in their positions. So it's hard for me. It would be cruel -- not cruel for me to call somebody who drives drunk an idiot, but it would be cruel for me to laugh at somebody's position.

And I like to think that I'm not really cruel. Controversial, yes. Cruel, no.

KING: Yes. OK.

Thoughts on the so-called "MySpace Suicide." A Missouri mom faces sentencing for conviction on three misdemeanor computer crimes and an Internet hoax that apparently led to the suicide of a 13-year- old girl.

The prosecution wants a three-year sentence. Would you?

SHEINDLIN: The Internet is a fabulous and fascinating thing. I don't do it. I don't know if you do it.

KING: I Twitter, but I don't type the things. My producer types them, but I give them the thoughts.

SHEINDLIN: Well, I could give them the thoughts too, but I don't do it myself. I don't sit in front of a computer three or four hours a day.

Let's talk about computers for a second. It has wonderful, legitimate purposes.

When I was sitting in the back today, we were talking about some things that just came up, like finding the remains of somebody and the speculation of it being Mr. Peterson's fourth wife.

That information came instantaneously. People who had their computer or their BlackBerry or blueberry or cranberry, whatever berry they're holding, they got that information immediately. People who don't do that and who don't have a staff to do it wait until the next day to either read a newspaper or to listen to the 6:00 news to get their information.

So, it's a wonderful thing to be able to get this information immediately. Unfortunately, when you have such a wonderful tool, you have people who would abuse it.

This is a woman who clearly abused this wonderful tool, and she's an adult and she should have known better. And if there is a nexus between what she did in setting up this vulnerable child by making believe, I think, that it was a boyfriend, there was a virtual boyfriend, and then when the virtual boyfriend broke up with her, she unfortunately ended her life.

If this woman had a part in that, there has to be a consequence. And for me, that the prosecutor found something in the law, maybe had to be inventive, maybe had to finesse and massage an existing statute, which is probably what they did -- they massaged an existing statute to find something to prosecute her with, do I think that she should get a prison sentence? I would send her away for a short period of time and then place her on probation.

I would make a statement to the rest of the people out there, otherwise --

KING: Don't fool around with this.

SHEINDLIN: -- you explain to me why Martha Stewart was in prison and Leona Helmsley was in prison. I mean, they weren't going to rob banks. They were an example. And nobody died.

KING: Right.

Judge Judy is the guest. Back in 60 seconds.


KING: Time now for our "CNN Heroes" segment. What better way to kick off Memorial Day Weekend with tonight's hero, who is Walt Peters.



WALT PETERS, CNN HERO: All right. We love you all. If it wasn't for our soldiers, we would not have this beautiful country. It's important that they know how proud this country is of them for their service.

My name is Walt Peters and I'm often the last person a soldier sees before he boards a plane.

Be safe. We love you. Take care.

And I'm often the first person they see when they return.

Welcome home, young man. We're proud of you.

My friend got me involved with Greeting Flights through the Red Cross. Now I'm one of the leaders and I train my volunteers.

Three miles out. Let's go. Wheels down.

I served a lot of time in Vietnam. They know I can relate to them.

If you stay scared, you stay alive. You know what I'm saying.

I see the roots of our country and our future in every one of these soldiers.


KING: Judy, do you have a hero?

SHEINDLIN: Well, I did have a hero, and I suppose I still do. A hero is somebody that you look up to and that has guided your life, and that would be my father.

He made me feel special all of my life. My growing up years were spent with the understanding from him in a clear, concise way that I could do anything that I set my mind to doing.

KING: What did he do?

SHEINDLIN: He was a dentist. He said I couldn't be a dentist.


KING: Back with Judge Judy. We're going to talk about Elizabeth Edwards and raw candor. Don't go away.



KING: Don't forget, our big "American Idol" show is tomorrow night. We've got a second hour on Monday. Kris, Adam and all the others answering your questions.

Was Adam nervous? Does Kris have a good luck charm? What advice did Ryan give them?

They want to hear from you, so ask them what you want to know right now at While you're there, check out Danny Gokey's exclusive commentaries. He's got another commentary for us about the finale.

Judge Judy continues.

All right. Elizabeth Edwards, on this show last week, an hour. Tough going, her raw candor. Writes a book about her husband's infidelity, her battle with cancer.

There was a lot of criticism of her. Maureen Dowd being the most prominent.

Dirty linen?

SHEINDLIN: Listen, I think she's a brilliant gal. I think that she's in a position now that I can't understand.

She's got an illness that she's been told -- and she looks at the paper every day and she sees that she's got a condition that they report is terminal. This was something that she needed -- I assume this was something that she needed to do for her inside, and I would never criticize her. I just think she's a terrific gal.

KING: Well said.

What do you make of Barack Obama, this phenomenon that is Barack Obama?

SHEINDLIN: I think that he's got a lot on his plate. I think that he's doing a job with grace. I think that he's not making those far to the left happy and I don't think that he's making those far to the right happy.

KING: But he remains popular without making them happy.

SHEINDLIN: Because I think we talked about this before. When you have outspoken voices from the far corners of position, eventually, in order for this country to be successful, we're going to come to a point, a centrist point, where one side will say, listen, I have -- let's sit down and talk about it, let's sit down and discuss your perspective, whether it's on abortion, whether it's on global warming. I have a perspective, you have a perspective . Let's talk about it and see if we can find some common ground that we can both agree on.

You know, when you talk about the issue of abortion, there are some people who are pro-choice and there are some people that are pro- life. And I think that, you know, if you were to believe polls, somebody said to me recently that the country voted 50/50 and it used to be not -- KING: It used to be 60/40.

SHEINDLIN: It used to be 60/40.

And I think that there are many people that are pro-choice that now believe or think, you know what, let's talk a little bit more about not becoming pregnant.

KING: All right. Obama this man, among many things coming. He's going to nominate a new Supreme Court justice, probably next week. It should be approved because of the majority he's got in the Senate.

Will it be a woman?

SHEINDLIN: Don't know?

KING: Any bets or speculation?

SHEINDLIN: You know, I was never a feminist and I never thought that -- I never had the need myself to become part of a group. I always thought that people should be selected for a job because of their qualifications. It certainly would be nice to have a representative Supreme Court.

KING: He says we need someone with heart, not just you know, a strict Constitutionalist.

Also, there are many who think every one of these judges on this court -- all nine -- were Federal judges. Maybe a politician, maybe a governor.

SHEINDLIN: I think you need somebody who has, in addition to academic skills, you need someone with common sense.

I don't know whether I think that heart is the thing that's necessary. I think it's nice if you have a good heart. I think we all like to think we have a good heart. But I think that sometimes academicians miss the common sense that it takes to be a good judge.

So, I don't know. Governor?


SHEINDLIN: The Supreme Court doesn't require that you even be a lawyer.

KING: I know.

SHEINDLIN: So, someone who has good common sense who has the pulse of what's going on in the 21st century I think would be a good candidate.

KING: There are strong rumors that the Republicans were going to attack strongly whoever it was. But then another side said they will not. SHEINDLIN: That's speculation. I really -- I don't know. I don't know enough about the --

KING: But the qualities you want are both compassion and knowledge.

SHEINDLIN: No. I didn't say -- just a second. I didn't say compassion. I said common sense. I need somebody when they're adjudicating an issue to not totally ground their decision on what they perceive to be stare decisis.

KING: I used compassion. Sorry.

SHEINDLIN: No, common sense.


SHEINDLIN: Common sense.

KING: OK. We're going to ask Judge Judy about regrets and we'll get some advice for the class of 2009, maybe for all of us.

We'll talk about it next.


KING: We're back with Judge Judy.

Lisa Ballot (ph) tweeted this to KingsThings: "Please ask Judge Judy if she has ever regretted one of her verdicts?"




I give each case that I try my best. I'm certain that I've made mistakes -- that doesn't mean that I haven't -- I'm certain that I have made mistakes.

I don't think that when you do the best job that you can, you can second guess yourself. I think that the only time that you know that you've made a mistake in my old job was when there was a death. You know, sometimes a judge will return a child to a mother, an infant to a mother and unfortunately the judgment was the wrong decision and the baby dies. Then you know you've made a mistake.

Fortunately, that never happened to me in all the years that I was in the family court. And I know very good judges who unfortunately had that happen to them in their careers. You don't get over that kind of thing because you do feel that you are responsible for that.

But, I think that as a judge that if you are driven by what is right and to get the best information you can, you have to put a period at the end of the case and move forward.

KING: I know you don't like, I'm told, commencement addresses. And nobody remembers them with rare exception. Cuomo gave a great one once that I saw. It was incredible.


KING: What would you say to the -- in essence, what's the clear message to 2009? Graduates?

SHEINDLIN: Graduates, become citizens of the world. Become citizens of the country that you live in. Become citizens of your community. Pick something that you're naturally adept at and then figure out a way to make a living at it. So that way you'll always be happy in the work that you choose. And probably the most important thing that they should remember is you only have one chance to make a first impression.

KING: Big argument today in two speeches: Obama on one side, Cheney on the other.

In essence, do you feel safe?

SHEINDLIN: Do I feel safe? I don't think anybody in this country feels safe. Anybody in this country who's over 20 years old, or over 18 years old feels totally safe as we did when you know, 25 years ago, 12 years ago.

You know, we're vulnerable. I think that there's a balance that these two men -- at least one of them is trying to --

KING: Well, the methods of treating prisoners. One's saying we should never --

SHEINDLIN: Were the means justified?

KING: Right.

SHEINDLIN: Did the means justify the end?

KING: Right.

SHEINDLIN: And if the means justified the ends, how do we sit in the world community? How were we viewed in the world community? Are we no different from those people -- those countries who have indulged in and permit that kind of behavior? And we haven't in the past. So, should we become what we have appalled all of our life as America? No.

But there has to be a common ground. And you saw that with the vote today. It wasn't --

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: It wasn't an easy vote. It wasn't a cake walk as you thought it would be. KING: And this isn't easy, to say we're out of time.

SHEINDLIN: Always a pleasure.

KING: Love you, Judge Judy.

SHEINDLIN: Thank you.

KING: By the way, on our May 18th show concerning the swine flu, I asked the attorney, for guest Steven Trunnell a question that assumed that the origin of the swine flu virus had been determined to be a Smithfield joint venture facility in Mexico, as it was made clear elsewhere in the Hill (ph), this time it's disputed. In fact, the Mexican government issued a subsequent report based on its own testing finding no H1N1 found at this facility.

Remember, "American Idol" tomorrow night. Anderson Cooper next, with "AC360" -- Anderson.