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CNN Larry King Live

Interview With Judge Judy

Aired October 04, 2005 - 21:00   ET


JUDGE JUDY SHEINDLIN: There's only one attitude here and that's mine.


SHEINDLIN: Listen to me very carefully, madam...


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Judge Judy is back, the no- nonsense mother of all TV judges.


SHEINDLIN: It came to her by mental telepathy like (INAUDIBLE), you know.


KING: She'll give us these great answers as only she can to all sorts of tough questions, even about her own future, the one, the only Judge Judy, my pal for the hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.

With a happy new year to our Jewish friends, we remind you that we are taping this this afternoon for broadcast tonight. Our guest is the wonderful Judge Judy Sheindlin, who began her tenth season in syndicated television. She worked in New York's family courts for 25 years. Did you just sign a new contract?

SHEINDLIN: We have a new contract.

KING: For?

SHEINDLIN: For another four years.

KING: How long you going -- how long you going to keep on keeping on?

SHEINDLIN: Well, I hope that I'm going to know when it's time to say goodbye. I think that you're supposed to know when it's time to say goodbye. The people over at Paramount say it's not time to say goodbye yet. I look in the mirror and I say you still look pretty reasonable, you know, still can get it together if you have to and I'm still having a good time, Larry, so. KING: Who came to who initially?

SHEINDLIN: You mean ten years ago?

KING: How did this come about?

SHEINDLIN: Ten years ago?

KING: I remember you were on our show when you first started.

SHEINDLIN: Oh, ten years ago.

KING: No one knew you. We gave you your break Judy.

SHEINDLIN: That's true.

KING: Yes, OK.

SHEINDLIN: That's true. I owe it all to you. Two women who had worked on "The People's Court" saw the "60 Minutes" tape -- the "60 Minutes" piece that they did on me.

KING: On you.

SHEINDLIN: And about a year or so later "People's Court" was just going off the air. I guess they were looking for a new gig and they called me. I was a sitting judge in Manhattan. I was a supervising judge in Manhattan and they said to me, "Did you ever think of doing what you do on television?"

You know we watched Judge Wapner. All the judges watched Judge Wapner. All America at one point or another watched Judge Wapner. And I used to say to myself, "I could do that." I don't know if I could do it the say way in my style but I could do that. And I said to them, "OK, we'll come out to California and we'll go out."

KING: (INAUDIBLE) a pilot.

SHEINDLIN: And you know what they do. They take you around. They take you around. You don't get a pilot right away. First you get schlepped around from one...

KING: With the suits.

SHEINDLIN: ...the suits. And I met a guy whose name is Larry Little and at that time he had just started his own company. It was under Spelling Television called Big Ticket Television.

And, Larry got me. I mean he got who I was. He's a New York City boy and I think that he just got it and he said, "If you sign on with me now, I will guarantee that we'll do a pilot."

So, I did and we did and World Vision, which is no longer in existence, took the show out and we had terrible time periods and we were on the worst stations in every city and I really wasn't sure whether the program... KING: And it wasn't "The People's Court right?"

SHEINDLIN: And it wasn't "The People's Court." It had my name on it so they couldn't fire me, at least they couldn't fire me for the first couple of months. And, for I would say six months it took people time to find us but once they did, even though it was at a bad time on a terrible station, we began to build a core audience and then it just -- the second year and the third year it just took off.

KING: Did you like it right from the get-go?

SHEINDLIN: As soon as I made it my own. You know everybody had a different vision for what Judy, Judge Judy should be and I knew what I should be, which is just what I am. I hear cases. I gather information. I try to have the right thing happen at the end of the case, try to have the case have a moral compass to it, try to do a little teaching while I'm at it because that's the, you know, that's the preacher in me.

KING: And be a little rough on people sometimes.

SHEINDLIN: And sometimes you have to shake somebody by the scruff of the neck for them to get it, you know. Some people just don't get it. They don't even get it when I'm finished with them but at least I give it a try.

KING: There are many legal shows on right?

SHEINDLIN: There are...

KING: How many followed you?

SHEINDLIN: ...eight or nine now.

KING: Yes, why? Why do we like them?

SHEINDLIN: You know how we're fascinated with the judicial process? Look how fascinated we are now with what's going on in the highest court of the land. And, the decisions that are made in the Supreme Court, while they eventually might impact on your day-to-day life, doesn't really impact on what you do when you get up in the morning, going to work, you know, coming home, spending time with your family.

But in the lower trial courts you have cases that really touch the life's fiber of people, especially of course like the family court, the criminal court, I mean the people in this country unfortunately there isn't probably a family in this country that hasn't been touched by crime in one way or another...

KING: Yes, sadly.

SHEINDLIN: ...either by a burglary or a robbery or a car theft, so people are interested in how it's resolved.

KING: Speaking of the Supreme Court what's your read on Harriet Miers' appointment?

SHEINDLIN: Well, I'm sure she's a very smart lady. She has to be a very smart lady and I don't know anything about her. I don't think most people except the inner circle in Washington know anything about her.

But I always wonder, and this is not to say anything denigrating to this perspective Supreme Court justice but it always seems to me that in a country of 300 million people we should be able to find somebody that not only is smart but who has some judicial credential as well.

You know, when -- there were people who tried -- let me -- I digress for a moment to answer your question. There were people who tried to be judges on television who were never judges, Ed Koch for instance, who was a great mayor and I adored him. I mean I don't think in my memory...

KING: He did the "People's Court" right?


KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: I don't think in my memory there was a better mayor for New York, more spirited, spunky, got people together at a time that we needed it.

KING: How am I doing?

SHEINDLIN: How am I doing? People loved the spirit of Ed Koch as mayor. And then they talked him into doing the "People's Court." As brilliant as Ed Koch is he wasn't comfortable in that chair and he will acknowledge it because he didn't have judicial experience. He didn't know how to question somebody. He didn't know how to gather information.

You learn that as a sitting judge. So, I say to myself, nice lady and not because I'm interested in what her philosophy is, I just think that you can -- you bring different dimensions when you come to the bench.

KING: Some conservative critics wanted more, someone with some more intellectual background who has written briefs and major papers, so we have some concept of wisdom. The court requires wisdom does it not?

SHEINDLIN: Well, it requires it. That doesn't always mean we got it but they -- hopefully the people that you select for the Supreme Court have wisdom. You can't tell that very often by written decisions, you know.

The truth be told very -- you have law clerks, sometimes two or three who you may say, "Listen, this is where I want to get at the end of this case. Get me there." And the law clerks help you craft a well-written opinion, which hopefully will withstand appellate scrutiny.

I mean I believe that this is a woman of integrity. Nothing that I've read about her, and we've only read things in the last 24 hours, suggest that she's not. And I think she's smart. She has good academic credentials. But it would be nice to have somebody who brought along with that some judicial experience.

KING: You believe there should be special training required before people are even considered for a job on the bench?

SHEINDLIN: Absolutely.

KING: Training like -- well isn't there a school for judges?

SHEINDLIN: There is a school, well for instance in New York...

KING: I remember a friend of mine was appointed a federal judge and he went to someplace for a month to learn things.

SHEINDLIN: Well, isn't that a little bit ass backwards is my question to you? You had a friend who was appointed to the federal bench and then he went to school. What if he wasn't smart? Why don't you have him go to school first in an area...

KING: Yes but who would take the school for judges?

SHEINDLIN: Just as -- well, this is -- there are countries in Europe where they have -- where being a judge is a profession where you go to school. You take tests. You take tests that are relevant to the court to which you aspire for instance.

I've often said having a family doesn't necessarily make you qualified to have a family court judgeship. Living in a house doesn't necessarily make you qualified to be a housing court judge, right? Certainly being a criminal doesn't make you qualified to be a criminal court judge.

So before, to me since judges who sit especially at the trial court level have so much impact on the lives of people it would seem to me that first we send people who aspire to a job on the bench to school. Then we test them. And you don't even get the opportunity to apply unless you can pass a substantive test to the relevant law in the court to which you aspire. What's wrong with that?

KING: We'll be right back with Judge Judy. It's called logic. She's just resigned for another four years and she's a welcome, welcome, welcome edition to the tube every day. Don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: You were so blind drunk, not a question in my mind that you wouldn't know her if she came up and bit you in the behind. You said there were three girls that came out. It's my job to ascertain who tells the truth and who lies. She told a very cogent story. There is no reason to say that she's lying about being one of the three girls that came out that night that spoke to you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why didn't the police interview her then?

SHEINDLIN: I have no idea, sir. I have enough trouble figuring out why I'm here.




SHEINDLIN: Only I have to know, Mr. Campbell (ph), and there may have been somebody else that gave (INAUDIBLE) the clap but so did you.


SHEINDLIN: I'm telling you that I believe that you did.


SHEINDLIN: You had the opportunity. You had the inflammation and you certainly, Mr. Campbell, had the motive.


SHEINDLIN: Don't say it again. There's only one person who gets the last word in. That's me. Do you understand? Me. I know you're a telemarketer but only I get the last word. You know the people that say goodbye, don't call me again, that's me.


KING: Now, what training did you have for family court?

SHEINDLIN: I was a lawyer in the family court for ten years. I worked for the corporation counsel's office of the City of New York. I prosecuted juvenile delinquency cases. I did support and paternity. So, I was in the trenches and even then, Larry, it took me time.

I remember the first day that I took the bench. It was in the Bronx and the court officers, if was pretty formal back then, court officer said, you know, say "All rise" and I stood up because I was accustomed to they say "All rise." We stood and finally the court officer said "You can sit down now, judge. They're standing for you. You can sit down." So, even when you have experience you need time to get comfortable in your chair.

KING: I had a judge who became a federal judge told me once that the hardest thing to decide was custody cases. First he had no experience. Who has experience with custody cases? He's been happily married, has children. Who gets whom? Isn't that the hardest to give a child from one parent to another?

SHEINDLIN: Yes. Sometimes it's relatively easy because the choices are clear but I've always thought in this country we do a terrible disservice to fathers. You know there was a time many years ago when we had what we called the Tender Years Doctrine, which meant children of tender years, young children, always went to their mother.

And then all of the courts in this country said that's not fair. We have to be equal. So, on the books there is a law that says no one parent is favored over the other, now that's honored more in the breach than it is honored in actuality. And, I have been a proponent for many years of there being a presumption in this country for joint custody of children. That's where courts should start.

KING: That's where you begin?

SHEINDLIN: That's where you begin and if you're going to deviate from that, you have to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that there is some valid reason why you're going to deviate from that because one parent is crazy, one parent has a drug problem, an alcohol problem, something's wrong.

But that should be the standard joint custody because children are entitled to be raised by two parents even if the parents don't get along anymore. I mean I think it's horrendous when one parent picks up and moves out of the state or moves 250 miles away and some judge in the family court, the domestic relations court usually if it's the mother who has moved away says, "Well, we'll have a hearing to determine whether it was the right thing."

No, no, no, no, no. You can't say to people who you've lulled into this sense of I'm equal, you're an equal father. You can take off paternity leave. We expect you to participate in the rearing of your children, to go to open school night, to be out there to play with them. Very often there are two people working in the household. They divide authority and you're equal except when there's a divorce.

And then, how often, Larry, I ask you the question, do you hear it quoted in the paper "He lost custody of his children"? You don't hear that. You hear "She lost custody. There must be something wrong with her."

Well I think that that has to change in this country because it was my experience in the family court, and I left the family court ten years ago, but even my experience on the television courtroom suggests to me that there are as wonderful a group of fathers out there as a group of mothers and it's about time that this country recognize that in not only the letter of the law but the spirit of the law as well.

KING: Why is judicial activism bad or is made to seem bad, he's or she's an activist because we could call you an activist? You had a case where you gave a child to grandparents right?


KING: Yes. That's activist.

SHEINDLIN: Well, I gave a child to grandparents. I think that the case you're referring to is about a little girl who was born...

KING: Born a drug addict. SHEINDLIN: Born drug addicted and she was brought to a hospital in New York because she was underweight and they unfortunately injured her very badly in the hospital. They burned her under the lights in the neonatal unit and then she was transferred to another hospital where unfortunately they damaged a leg.

And the mother and father, the biological parents of this baby were in the wind but the grandparents lived in New Jersey. The law in New York, as in most states, say that you cannot transfer a child from one state to another without what they call an interstate compact, which means that one state has to go and look at the home, evaluate the home, see what the people are like.

That takes time and the states are not usually very cooperative with each other because they say "Why do we want to do an investigation? You're going to bring another child into our state that we have to watch. We have our own children we want to watch," especially since this was New Jersey and New York. These people live 12 minutes over the George Washington Bridge.

And it was very frustrating to me because three months after the baby was born she was ready to leave the hospital. She had been severely injured and the grandparents were there to take her and the State of New York said you can't do it. The law says she gets an interstate compact before we can transfer her 12 minutes across the GW Bridge.

KING: What did you do?

SHEINDLIN: Well, we're talking about judicial activism. Sometimes the law doesn't fit a situation and if you start with the premise that the right thing is supposed to happen at the end of a trial, the right thing for a family, especially in the family court, sometimes you have to be creative.

So, on a Friday I directed that the child was produced in the nursery in our family court nursery from the hospital and all the attorneys were there and the city attorney and the city's appellate attorney and the child's law guardian and the grandparents.

And I called the nursery and I said to the nursery you're going to release the child to the grandparents when I call the case and they did. And this little girl was able to go home with her grandparents and the city stomped and screamed, appeal whatever. By the time they got finished with the appeal a year and a half later, the interstate compact had been done and the right thing happened.

And recently I heard from this grandmother, so we're talking about 14 years ago and the little girl is fine and her mother is still in the wind but the right thing happened. Now is that judicial activism?

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: But you wouldn't say that that was a bad thing.


SHEINDLIN: You would say that that was a good thing.

KING: You damn right. We'll be right back with Judge Judy. Don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: If it worked, were you going to pay for it?


SHEINDLIN: Well is not an answer, Mr. Guthrie (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I explained to her...

SHEINDLIN: If it worked -- listen to me very carefully, sir, if it worked were you going to pay for it? Just a second, the questions get harder. What's your first name?


SHEINDLIN: Gary. Listen to me, Gary. Try not to play with me, sir. Otherwise you're going to look like an idiot. If it worked, were you going to pay for it?


SHEINDLIN: That wasn't hard was it, Gary?


SHEINDLIN: Did you actually think you were going to come here and make a fool out of me?




SHEINDLIN: I'm not going there. I asked you what you wanted. The most important thing you told me was your automotive tools.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.

SHEINDLIN: I am now in the process of indulging you. You're not taking her refrigerator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's two refrigerators in the house. She only needs one. She can have her original one. I'll take my original one.

SHEINDLIN: What else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well I really want $5,000 for the tools that were taken out of my toolbox.

SHEINDLIN: I want you to, you know, I want to be 5'6". It's just not going to happen for me.


KING: Do you ever get tired of that?


KING: No, you don't huh?

SHEINDLIN: No, I don't.

KING: Here they come again. Here they come with the guy's tools. He gets the refrigerator.

SHEINDLIN: No, I -- you know there were a -- who was it? Was it "Dragnet" they used to -- there were a million stories in this and there were seven million...

KING: "Naked City."

SHEINDLIN: "Naked City" there were a million stories. As long as people remain different and whether they come from New York, Los Angeles, Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin they are the same in many respects but there are nuances and it's the nuances that make them interesting.

KING: Gay marriage?


KING: Favor it?

SHEINDLIN: You know I think that we have so much to worry about in this country and in this world. I'm going to give you a long answer. If I said yes, no, it would be boring. The show would be over.

We have so much to worry about in this country. We have Katrina. We have people who aren't being educated. We have people who are living below the poverty line. In this world we have global warming. We have everything else.

KING: And we have gay people.

SHEINDLIN: And we have gay people. Who is it hurting? You know, my grandmother used to say who is it hurting? So, I ask you, Larry, if you have two adults and they happen to both be of the same sex and they love each other and they want to set up a home with each other they have as much of a shot as heterogeneous couples do. Fifty-two percent of marriages end in divorce, you know.

So if it works it works. If it doesn't, it doesn't. And if it's important for them to use the word marriage, rather than civil union or whatever other language that some people would prefer that they use I ask you it's not hurting me. It doesn't impact on my life. Why is there such a big fuss about it? Why are people so invested in it? I just don't get the negativity. I don't get it.

KING: How about abortion same thing?

SHEINDLIN: Abortion the same thing, abortion the same thing. I mean I have issues with late term, partial birth abortions because I think that you have to act responsibly and if you find out that you're pregnant, and we're not talking about incest and we're not talking about rape, we're talking about the standard fare. You know I decide I don't want to have this baby. It's not good for me. It's not the right time, whatever it is.

You have to act responsibly and do it soon. You can't wake up and scratch your head, you know, six, seven months later and say you know I really thought I wanted this baby. Now I decided that I don't. I want an abortion.

So, I think with every right and I think it is a woman's right to choose, along with a right comes responsibility and you have to act responsibly in exercising that right, which means if other than and we're not talking about health of the mother, we're not talking about incest and we're not talking about rape but talking about women making the reasoned choice you have to be responsible. Do it at the right time.

KING: Are there many cases that boggle your mind where you have to go this is a coin toss?

SHEINDLIN: I've had cases that boggle. You know the cases that still boggle my mind, Larry, are those cases that involve abuse of children. I don't get that.

KING: I'm talking about -- let me get a break -- where the decision boggles your mind where I can't -- I can't know if it's him or her or that or this or he should get this -- OK, I'll pick up what I mean.

We'll take a break. We'll be right back with Judge Judy. She signed for another four years. Don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: Driving a car on a suspended license is?


SHEINDLIN: That's not something that Christina could wave a wand and do away with. That's only something that you have control over, Mr. Koonz (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't think it was a big deal though just to run down to the store.

SHEINDLIN: It is a big deal you idiot. (END VIDEO CLIP)



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did tell him that he was screwed. And he asked me because I had called the IRS and found out that he can't legally claim Tyler. And that's what I told him he was screwed for.

SHEINDLIN: No, you just said you were screwed because I called the IRS?


SHEINDLIN: Listen to me, don't make things up as you're going along. I can tell, I have a truth meter back here. When somebody is giving me the business, my left eye starts to twitch. You got it?


KING: are there a lot of -- what I went was are there a lot of cases, Judge Judy, that are tough calls?

SHEINDLIN: Yeah, if they were easy, everybody could do it. And that would not be a good thing for me.

I think that in order to make a good judgment, especially in a court like the family court or even a court like the small claims court where I now preside you have to listen. You have to have common sense. You may not have all the book smarts that some people do, and I was certainly never an academic person. I was never a legal scholar. I understood what the meaning of the law was. I understood what its intention was. I understood what the right thing was.

And my ability, if I have any ability at all, is to be able to say this makes sense. This is within my, my realm of human knowledge. This is how people would react to a situation. And take that and craft a decision that makes me comfortable and makes the people around me comfortable. You know, whether it be custody, whether it be termination of parental rights, taking somebody's child away from them permanently, whether it is making a decision with regard to paternity of a child.

I think that you may disagree with how I get there. And I have critics that I know say, listen, I don't like the way she does business. You know, she doesn't treat everybody gingerly. And she's not as respectful to people as she should be.

But at the end of the day, the people who have seen me work know that I only have one concern. And that is at the end of the case doing the right thing. As - true, as I see it, but gathering the information and then having a just result happen at the end of the case.

KING: now, there are cameras in your court every day. Should there be cameras in every court?

SHEINDLIN: There should be cameras in every court in the country.

KING: Supreme Court, too?

SHEINDLIN: Every single court in this country.

KING: Why aren't there? Why isn't the Supreme Court televised?

SHEINDLIN: I don't know.

KING: Why is that sacrosanct?

SHEINDLIN: I don't know. You see, first of all, as taxpayers we pay for a very expensive judiciary.

KING: It's our court.

SHEINDLIN: It's our court. Why can't we see what happens? We have C-SPAN. That's where you watch legislators all over this country, right? The government hasn't collapsed. We see legislators who are making fools of themselves. We see legislators who are bright, we see those that are sleeping, we see those who are snoring, we see though that ask good questions and those who don't. We're entitled to see that.

Go back for a second. When I came to the family court, there were no cameras in the courtroom. And when I became a judge, there were no cameras. They had various experiments trying it. But when I became the supervising judge of Manhattan, I said we're going to have cameras in the courtroom, in mine. You don't have to have them in yours. We're going to have them in mine. Because I figured as your grandmother used to say, I will shame them into it.

Right? I will shame them into it. Because I would say, I have nothing to hide. I want the cameras to be there to see good lawyering and bad lawyering, good judging and bad judging. What legal aid people look like, how legal aid lawyers are functioning in the family court, good or bad. How city attorneys are functioning within the system, whether they are qualified or not.

And the only people that want cameras away from the courtroom are those that are afraid they have a negative story to be told. Now, people talk about the abuses, the abuses of the O.J. Simpson trial where it was a fiasco. And the only reason it was a fiasco is because we weren't used to it. You see, if they had a camera in every courtroom, quiet, a camera one camera, nobody there with lights, nobody there with sound booms, nothing. One camera. That ran eight hours a day, televised everything.

Then appellate courts, when they review a case of a lower trial court but not only have the black and white printed word, which very often doesn't tell the story.

I'm looking at Larry King and I can tell whether he is interested in what I'm saying or whether he is saying, when is she going to shut up. I can tell that from looking at you. You're not finished with me yet. But you can't do that when you're dealing with black and white on paper.

So if the appellate judges had the ability, appellate judges, federal appellate judges and the Supreme Court of the United States was reviewing a case of a lower trial court and had the ability to observe what went on there, why is that a hindrance?

KING: Are you concerned about violence in the courtroom? Seems to -- maybe it's just me, but there seems to be more of it. A guy pulls a gun in Atlanta and shoots somebody and -- Poor security?

SHEINDLIN: Poor security, people aren't prepared for it. I mean, I remember being in the family court when, even though we had magnetometers, there was stabbings and people would manage to get things in.

KING: A lot of anger in family court.

SHEINDLIN: A lot of anger in the family court. And are you concerned? I wasn't terribly concerned, Larry, with security when I was a sitting family court judge. And I think I brought that into my current job. You know, I think that when you see celebrities, especially movie people, walking around with an entourage, including bodyguards, I think that they sort of feel as if they're at risk.

I always wonder that some guy was going to come to get me whose kid I had taken away from him. But you can't stop living if you want to do your job. You have to just get out there and do it.

KING: Judge Judy. She signed on, as we said, for another four years. So we hope she keeps on keeping on. She's celebrating 10 years, 10 years of success in syndication. Phew. We'll be right back.


SHEINDLIN: So you went up to Peekskill about two and a half years ago and you bought these 30 arcade games sight unseen.


SHEINDLIN: And how much did you pay for the machines?


SHEINDLIN: And you paid him in cash.


SHEINDLIN: And what was his name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jesse something.

SHEINDLIN: Jesse from Peekskill. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is that funny?

SHEINDLIN: Oh, it's not funny. I'm funny.



SHEINDLIN: So it's a good thing she left right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't know if it's a good thing ...

SHEINDLIN: Listen to what I said. Stop thinking about what you're going to say next and start listening to my question. So it's a good thing that she left?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, for the sake of argument it was.

SHEINDLIN: I'm speaking to you. Give him a good one. So it's a good thing that she left?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. But she wasn't told to leave.

SHEINDLIN: No, she - it came to her by mental telepathy like Carnack. You know?


KING: You get angry at one of the people in front of you, does that cloud your judgment finally about them?

SHEINDLIN: You mean about the ultimate resolution of the case?

KING: Because I'm told that if a judge, say, doesn't like a defense lawyer, doesn't like the way he acts or something, that should not hold that against his client?

SHEINDLIN: Absolutely right, and not liking a particular litigant. That also requires training. That's why we talked a little bit earlier in the hour about people should have a little bit of training. That's something you have to get over. You know, the fact that you don't like the way somebody looks or the way somebody dresses or that they come in, you know, with a low cut outfit to court ...

KING: Nothing to do with the case.

SHEINDLIN: Nothing to do with the case. And I -- oh, I remember, you know, cases come back to me, mostly my family court cases, my family court days. And I remember doing a case with a young woman. And it was a custody case, and it was an out of wedlock child. And she had been a barn dancer.

And the father of this child was from a very wealthy family, but he was a bum. He was bereft of any moral compass. And she was not bright, she was a street girl, but she had a sense of right and wrong. And ultimately, I had to make a decision as to whether I wanted this child to grow up in an affluent home with a bum or in a home that was going to be a struggle with somebody who wasn't so intelligent and wasn't going to be able to help them with ninth grade math, and yet was a fair and reasonable and hard working and caring person.

And I wasn't crazy about her. I mean, you know, if you think about it, she did all the things that I didn't think were good for a woman to do. But yet, she got custody of the child. Of course, that case didn't turn out as well as I would have liked because this young man left and ran out of the country with his family's money and left the country for six years, but I got him.

KING: What did you think of the Terri Schiavo matter?

SHEINDLIN: What did I think of it? As a parent of grown children and grown children who are married, I can understand why if you have a short-term marriage where somebody you knew is going to get on with their life, the surviving mate is going to get on with their life -- and you know, Larry, as a parent, you would never get over the death of a child.


SHEINDLIN: That never happens. Most people that I know that that's happened to ...

KING: That's the worst thing in the world.

SHEINDLIN: That's the worst thing. You never recover from that. And you have a single-mindedness of purpose as a parent to make sure that your -- it's a single-mindedness. There's nothing else. You're like blindfolded if you're a reasonable person.

And my sense is that after a point he should have said to her parents, it's your call. You asked me a question. You know, I always give you the answer. It's your call. I've moved on with my life, as he did. Moved on with his life. I think he had a couple of children, right?

And would he miss her, would he feel, you know, a certain amount of loss when she finally is gone? Probably not. There was a certain amount of relief after she was gone because that means he could really get on with his life. Not that he didn't love her. I'm sure there was a time when he actually loved her, but her parents never stopped loving her. And I think it would have been easier for them.

KING: So since she wasn't in pain, what's -- and they were willing to take her.

SHEINDLIN: Where is Sunny von Bulow. Do you know where she is?

KING: Somewhere still on a monitor, I guess.

SHEINDLIN: Right. Her children say she's going to live there and she's going to have her hair done, and whatever is going to happen, all it's going to do is cost money. KING: Back with more of Judge Judy right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He went over there and just took my TV off and went to the middle of the floor. And I'm up here watching my TV get bashed into the floor. Kabam (ph). Then, it's not a combined set. He went and got the VCR next and he went and he kabammed (ph) it into the floor. And I'm going like, what is he doing? At the same time I'm down here, she up there and then he went that way.

SHEINDLIN: Enough. I heard enough.


SHEINDLIN: Shush. I'll take the pictures if you will be quiet.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me and him have an understanding. This thing right here ...

SHEINDLIN: Listen to me. Listen to me very carefully, Ms. Clark (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do for my other son.

SHEINDLIN: Don't talk to me with attitude. There's only one attitude here and that's mine. Listen to me carefully, Madam. There's only one attitude here, and Officer Byrd (ph) will tell you that that attitude is mine.


KING: Officer Byrd agrees. Louis Nizer -- The great Louis Nizer -- young people won't know who I'm talking about. A very famous New York trial lawyer who lived into his 90s, was a guest of mine frequently in Miami, said to me once the worst case ever was contested divorce.

There's more anger in a contested divorce than in the victim of a crime of murder sitting behind the alleged murderer in the courtroom. There's more anger. And so he therefore would never handle it contested divorce again. Took too much out of the lawyer. Your thoughts?

SHEINDLIN: Oh, it does. It absolutely does. One of my children -- I have three kids who are lawyers. But one of my children who is a lawyer does matrimonial work. And I'm on the phone with him at least three or four hours a week going over the case, you know, because he needs to vent. He needs to vent because sometimes he's got a judge that doesn't know whether it's north or south and sometimes there's just a blatant unfairness that's happening and he can't get away from it. And sometimes it's just lazy people functioning.

And I said to him, get out of this business. I've said to him more than one occasion, get out of this business. You're not going to live with a stomach like your going to get after 15, 20 years in this business. But he loves it. I love ...

KING: He loves it?

SHEINDLIN: I loved practicing family law because I knew -- not only practicing family law, but judging in a court that did custody cases, that did visitation cases because unfortunately, what you need to be as a judge is to make judgments.

And all too often judges who are in this system don't want to make a mistake, don't want to make too many angry, so they'll have a case drag on for a year, 18 months, and they'll hope that they're wearing them down, the parties will ultimately run out of money.

One of them is going to run out of money. One of them is going to say enough already, I can't do it anymore instead of saying, I have to tackle this problem. You have children who are the innocents. I have to make a judgment as to who is going to spend time with the children at what points in their lives, who is the better custodian if there is such a thing as a better custodian, if they're equal to insist that they do have equal parenting and try to put that together.

It took a little work, but as I said about 14 years ago when I did my first "60 Minutes" piece with Morley Safer -- and I'll never forget. It stuck with me. He said to me, what's the difference between the courts? And I said, you know, if you are not prepared to break a sweat when you work, go to surrogates court. There are only dead people there. And I believe that today.

KING: Do you have a case in your TV history that's really bizarre to you?

SHEINDLIN: I don't have one, to be honest with you. I have many cases from my family court history that are not only bizarre but, you know, stay with you, stay with your soul. But the interesting thing about these cases that I do every day is that they are little pieces -- like little pieces of indigestion that sit right here with people, you know?

They have something that they -- a little issue that they have allowed to manifest itself and take over their lives. I think most of it is ridiculous. You know, who gets the tea service after the divorce is ridiculous when the real issue is am I going to see the children every weekend or every other weekend or, you know, you ran off with your secretary.

That's the real issue, but I want the tea service. That's what I want. They've allowed it to interfere with their daily lives, so it's my job is to say put a period. I'm going to make a decision for you. You may not like it, but it's the decision. It's over.

If you're smart, you'll move on. And if you're not smart, you'll waste this wonderful youth that you have litigating and being miserable. So I don't have one case. They're -- all of them, you know? All of them are important to the people who are there.

KING: Sure.

SHEINDLIN: To me I do it, I finish it. It's over and I move on.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with the delightful Judge Judy. Don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: I don't believe that you had a legitimate expectation of being repaid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did, your honor.

SHEINDLIN: I think you made a big mistake and the big mistake was letting him move in. The big mistake was not the few hundred bucks that you gave him over the course of the months that he was living there. And you should kiss the ground right where he's standing that he left your house and left your house intact and left you intact and left your daughter intact and say, I'm going to be smarter next time. The next time I wait 10 years to have a guy move in with me, I'm going to know him more than two weeks and it's not going to be a recent parolee from state's prison.




SHEINDLIN: Dylan (ph), how could it be an accident if you were throwing the stones?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was throwing them across the road and she was going like 70.

SHEINDLIN: Dylan, Dylan, Dylan. I don't want your nose to get long. I want you to tell me how it's an accident that stones that you were rolling on the ground hit somebody's car?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I rolled it. It bounced up on the ...

SHEINDLIN: You rolled it and it bounced up. A rock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It hit another rock and it bounced.

SHEINDLIN: That's a fib, Dylan. You are not supposed to fib, any time, especially not when you're in court, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Kid's tough? Tough to handle?

SHEINDLIN: No, they're not tough to handle. You know, most ...

KING: Because that kid was adorable. He was kind of a Tex (ph) bad boy.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, he's sort of adorable. He's sort of adorable, but, you know he told his mother a fib and his mother believed him instead of saying, listen, that doesn't make sense. Rolling a rock in the street doesn't cause you to dent a fender in somebody's car. So she was going very fast and it bounced. And she believed this baloney. My job to disabuse her.

KING: What do you think of shows like "Law & Order," "Boston Legal"?

SHEINDLIN: Well, I must tell that you I'm a "Law & Order" junky.

KING: Me, too. They're hypnotic.

SHEINDLIN: I watch -- I watch -- I love the cadence of it. I love the finality of it. I watch it on NBC, I watch it on TNT, I watch it on USA Today.

KING: Me too.

SHEINDLIN: I'm a -- isn't that amazing. I didn't know that about you.

KING: I'll watch repeats. It don't matter.

SHEINDLIN: It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. We'll be halfway through eating a Fuji apple in bed and I'll look at Jerry (ph), and I'll say to him, I think we saw this. He says we did.

KING: I did one. It was one of the highlights of my career. I appeared on a "Law & Order."

SHEINDLIN: It was wonderful. I have been trying to get a gig, a piece on "Law & Order" ...

KING: They should have you.

SHEINDLIN: ... for years. Nobody wants to listen. Maybe somebody will hear it now.

KING: Oh, they'll use you. I think that would be ...

SHEINDLIN: Maybe. I would have a good time doing that.

KING: What about "Boston Legal" which is hysterical? Come on November 8th -- hysterical -- November 8th.

SHEINDLIN: Really? I'm going to watch it November 8th. I think it's an adorable, very well written show. And I think that everybody in it including Betty White, isn't she -- it's great.

KING: Oh yes. Why do we like law so much?

SHEINDLIN: Because it's relatable. We can relate to it. Most of what you see on television touches somebody that you know, touches a story that you read in the paper. It's not like engineering or brain surgery or open heart surgery. Everybody can have an opinion.

You can ask anybody here in the studio what they think about the Supreme Court appointment, and why they think it. And you don't have to be a trained lawyer or a litigator to give an answer. You can say either I think she looks like a nice lady or she should have judicial experience or it doesn't make any difference.

So you don't have to necessarily be trained to have an opinion which people really I think that's what brings the audience to all the court programs, because -- that they're relatable.

KING: And we have an opinion.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, and we have an opinion.

KING: Everybody had an opinion on Terri Schiavo. Everyone.

SHEINDLIN: Right. And you don't have to be -- and I didn't give you a legal answer on Terri Schiavo.

KING: No, you gave the human answer.

SHEINDLIN: I gave you an answer as a mother, as a mother who has married children, who has kids that were married for a couple of years and if God forbid something happened to my daughter who was married for two year, do you think I'd want her husband -- as nice a guy as he is -- to make that sort of a judgment ten years down the pike? No, sir.

KING: The good lawyer -- we only have minute left. The good lawyer does think about his cases at night. And the good doctor does. When you were in family court, did you think about it.

SHEINDLIN: Family court? All the time.

KING: Take it home with you?

SHEINDLIN: All the time. I used to say that family court was an eight Tylenol a day career.

KING: You are an ace.

SHEINDLIN: Thank you. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

KING: And we in the industry thank you for staying with us. She just signed for another four years, one of my favorite people, Judge Judy. Judge Judy Sheindlin, you'll be seeing her for a long time.

Tomorrow night we've got quite a show. Ashley Smith -- remember the young girl in the courtroom when that guy shot people and then took her hostage? Well, she's our guest tomorrow night along with Rick Warren. She read from his book to the suspect and he let her go. That's tomorrow night.

Right now AARON BROWN NEWSNIGHT is next. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for Judge Judy. Happy New Year and good night.