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There’s one thing about being a freelance writer, no matter what channel the TV stays on during the day, odds are, you’re going to see a handsome or beautiful judge passing down verdicts in a fancy courtroom setting. Even with the volume muted, there’s no missing the antics via their expressions on both the litigants’ and judge’s faces. That had me wondering….where do these judges come from and is there anything remotely legal about the setting and rulings? Turns out, they are true judges – very successful ones, at that and the rulings are binding, according to A. Harrison Barnes, who’s also an attorney and the founder of

In fact, says Barnes, many of these judges are from the Miami-Dade area and surprisingly, none were looking for a job in the entertainment business, but instead, were approached by companies such as Sony Television. While the goal is to find those beautiful judges that come across well over the airwaves (and by the looks of these judges, the efforts paid off), scouts also look for those with a high degree of experience and the personality to match (think Judge Judy).

Whether it’s the aforementioned Judge Judy and her no-holds-barred approached to defendants and plaintiffs alike, to the hilarious and openly-gay Judge David Young, there’s no lacking of personality, charm and ability to cite any number of court cases. A. Harrison Barnes says the wave of courtroom television began with The People’s Court more than a quarter century ago when Judge Joseph A. Wapner, in his grandfatherly wisdom, doled out legal rulings perched from his made for TV bench. No one other than the lovely Judge Marilyn Milian, who I would have sworn was found in Jersey, is actually a former Miami-Dade judge and now presides over The People’s Court.

Turns out, the franchises have been profitable for the various television studios. Even as several received the boot in 2009, those favorites remain and continue to rank high and rake in big bucks, too, says the founder. So who are the winners in the battle of TV judges? According to Nielsen ratings, here’s how they rank:

  • Judge Judy, who consistently ranks in the top 5 of syndicated judges
  • Judge Marily Milian comes in second with a strong showing
  • Judge Joe Brown, who in his fatherly wisdom, keeps readers loyal and tuned in and
  • Judge Greg Mathis, another favorite who uses a sense of humor to endear both the litigants and fans

For those who are wondering how they can become the next Judge Judy or Judge Joe Brown, A. Harrison Barnes warns that while the popularity has remained steady, it appears there’s a good balance of court TV programs and the odds of adding any new ones don’t seem to be in the cards for any of the production studios. Even if there was room, odds are, there’s not much a current judge would be able to do for himself except hope to get noticed by the powers that be. It’s good entertainment by true legal professions in this country – and after all, that’s what this country’s built on.

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