According to the plaintiff, she purchased a home that was in her mom’s name. The bills were paid out of her account that her mom had access to. Plaintiff stated that when she sold her house, there was an amount of $23,000 put in the account. She also stated that she received her social security checks in the mentioned account. The amount missing from the account was $1750. Both the plaintiff and defendant showed bank statements to support their argument, as the defendant had a counter suit for unpaid loans. After carefully reviewing the documents, Judge Mathis dismissed the defendant’s claim and awarded the plaintiff a total of $1320. Opinion of live court: The atmosphere in the courtroom was somewhat relaxed. Although each case was handled professionally, there seemed to be a lot of casual conversation between all parties involved, including the judge, bailiff, attorneys, and prosecutors. I found it interesting that the defendant in the first case chose to represent himself. The shackles on his legs and the 3
Melissa Lopez orange jumpsuit made it evident that he was an inmate at the jail, but he presented himself in a very respectful and professional manner. The defendant in the second case had an attorney representing him. It was clear that there had been previous discussion regarding the case because the defendant was very quick to plead guilty. The third case was by far the most interesting, but it was hard to keep up with what was being said because the trial had started several days before. It took a while to realize that the person being interviewed in the video was the same individual sitting next to the attorney at the table. My assumption was that they were playing back what the defendant originally stated to compare it to what was being said at that present time. I wondered about court sessions being open to the public just because you can never know who is sitting in the stands. In the two cases with attorneys representing the defendants, their demeanor was very welcoming and friendly. Opinion of reality court: My opinion regarding the reality court shows was that it is entertainment and scripted for television. Out of the five cases in the two shows, they all seemed to be minor disagreements between family and friends. On Judge Judy, I found it strange that the bailiff just so happened to have a book showing car values. None of the plaintiffs or defendants were represented by an attorney. Both Judge Judy and Judge Mathis made inappropriate and uncalled for comments. They both said things that made the audience laugh, which would not be allowed in a live courtroom. Analysis: There were obvious differences between the two court observations. In regard to the reality court, both seemed to fall under the classification of small claims court (and it was even stated in one of the cases). As we know, small claims court only hears civil cases with claims of $5000 or less. Most cases do not require attorneys, which may help to explain why none were seen on the reality shows. In the live court observation, it was a general jurisdiction court for criminal cases. The process for the three cases involved the defendants, attorneys, prosecutors, and jurors (in one case). 4
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- Spring '09
- Management, Lawyer, Judge Judy, Judge Mathis