|Someone wrote recently that reality shows on TV are on their way out. This makes no difference to me since I have avoided them. I’m just not interested in watching people trying to be the last survivor in a jungle, face their greatest fear by jumping into a vat of spiders, a gaggle of girls trying to snare a fake millionaire, or a bunch of big people in a weight losing contest.
There is only one venue that tickled my curiosity enough to make me spend one afternoon checking it out. I simply could not believe that ordinary people would actually pursue a personal law suit in front of a judge and a roomful of television cameras.
Judges have always fascinated me. I thought it would be a great job if one didn’t have to become a lawyer first. I’ve mentioned my hanging out, when a junior high school student, in my town’s night court until the judge noticed me and sent me home to do my homework at the dining room table instead of in his courtroom. Not being under oath, I had explained my presence as a civics class assignment.
One can’t help being aware of the four judges holding forth on TV every day. Two are women, one about thirty five and the other older. Two are men. One, the younger, is what can be called in the current vernacular a Hunk. He is built like a football lineman and is very handsome. The other is older and looks more intimidating.
The judges are identified on a first name basis when the program is announced, but there the familiarity ends. The ladies wear blouse collars over their robes. Their hair and makeup are impeccable and very attractive. This is more than can be said for the plaintiffs and defendants. At first I thought they were actors but came to realize no casting director or costume director could have produced them.
The cases are all civil suits. Feelings run pretty high, especially if the case involves family members, friends or ex-spouses. Some of the circumstances causing the suits are so outrageous even the judges can’t hide their reactions, such as eyebrows raised to the hairline, barely suppressed laughter, or a sideline glance at the bailiff. The bailiffs, by the way, all look impressive in their uniforms and badges and muscles like bouncers.
I have to believe the judges are the real thing. I’ve seen the women on talk shows and their stories are credible. The young man is said to be a former policeman, and lawyer. The older woman is unpleasant apparently enjoying her judicial prerogatives, such as blasting and berating. They all yell and shout, “Shut up”, which is a no no in our family.
Things can get way out of hand when angry feelings are let loose. There’s a lot of cross talking, sometimes with rough insults being exchanged, especially with “Liar” being slung back and forth. The judge has to act as referee and doesn’t hesitate to throw someone out of the room, but not without warning that three reprimands and you’re out in the hallway. Of course the gavels are often pounded, sometimes so hard I think they must be made of cast iron and not wood.
The judges all seem pretty sensitive to scams and scam artists. I suppose after encountering a couple of hundred one would be. There seem to be lots of these on the TV dockets, involving services rendered by one party to another. The next biggest suits seem to be the business of someone borrowing money from someone else, not banks or loan sharks, but relatives or friends. I would love to see some statistics on how many legal circuits are jammed up such cases.
After my own study of reality courtrooms, I decided to add them to my own list of TV rejects. After a while, all the programs began to resemble Saturday Night Live and I stopped watching that when it stopped being funny.