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A ‘Judge Larry Show' in the Wings?
February 26, 2007

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Guess we now know why Judge Larry Seidlen, the eccentric adjudicator of the Anna Nicole Smith case, vogued for the camera, made bizarre comments, referred to Anna Nicole's lifeless body as "my baby," called one of the attorneys in his courtroom "beautiful" and blubbered as he rendered his decision.

He was auditioning for a Judge Judy gig.

Seidlin's wife recently gave legs to a robed rumor.

"People who know him, and people who meet him on the street all say the same thing, ‘You should have your own television show,'" Seidlin's wife, Belinda, explained to ABC News.

Would anyone really be surprised if the entertainment industry transported Seidlin's courtroom to a studio lot, threw some pancake makeup on him and brought us yet another judge show?

We've already got Judge Judy, Judge Hatchett and Judge Joe Brown, among others.

With verdicts accompanied by sniffles, it's a pretty safe bet that Judge Larry would give even "Cristina's Court" a ratings challenge.

There's something about these judge shows that makes people tune in and get hooked.

Actually, court shows date back to the earliest years of television. In the 1950s, titles like CBS's "Verdict Is Yours," ABC's "Day in Court," and the syndicated "Divorce Court" grabbed the attention of viewers.

The first generation of "People's Court" ran in the 1950s under the name "People's Court of Small Claims." The latest version features Judge Marilyn Milian, the sixth successor to sit in Judge Wapner's seat.

Just as we saw in the real-life Anna Nicole proceedings, these programs feature courtrooms chock full of drama, suspense and intrigue. And as people experience frustration with the day-to-day, a desire grows to see justice meted out.

Courtrooms have an aura about them, and people's perceptions are shaped by what they see, hear and feel during the virtual experience. There is an overall expectation that fair-mindedness and impartiality will reign over inequity and injustice.

The cases for the judge TV shows are carefully selected and typically deal with issues involving friends, family members and small business/customer disputes, things that everyday people can relate to.

When a TV judge bawls out a defendant, tells off a plaintiff or chews out both, there is a feeling of resolution and a sense of satisfaction. And in the end, there is an assuredness that fairness really does exist somewhere.

In a culture that increasingly relieves people of responsibility, the judge shows appear to hold people accountable for their actions and impose appropriate consequences.

Most of the TV judges demonstrate objectivity in bringing justice to the small screen. Some instruct as they adjudicate. Some casually comment on the evidence before them.

Maybe soon we'll be getting one who is also able to cry on cue.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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