The People's Court

Premiered Sep 12, 1981 In Season


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Show Summary

The People's Court - a throwback to 1950s syndicated courtroom fare such as Traffic Court and The Stand Accused - was set in a small-claims court. The litigants had both agreed to bring their grievances to a California small-claims court, where retired Superior Court Judge Joseph A. Wapner heard the cases. The plaintiffs could file a claim for up to $1,500, while the defendants sometimes filed a countersuit if they felt they were due compensation. While most cases were run-of-the-mill complaints over poor service, broken contracts, ownership rights and malfunctioning merchandise, others had odd twists. For instance: * The overweight stripper who was not paid because the bachelor party-goers thought she was unattractive. During the arguments, she reveals she had gone at the request of her friend, the bride-to-be who found out about the party. * The mother who refused to pay a clown after he came to a birthday party dressed as a towering purple monster (he was supposed to play a Smurf); the clown ended up terrifying the party-goers. * The woman who requested a male friend make good on a verbal contract to pay half of the cost of her daughter's abortion, when she thought he was the father. He had backed out when he was sterile. * A woman who sued the owner of a pitbull after he jumped on the hood of his car. The pitbull's owner claimed she struck the dog and requested payment for the dog's injuries; and even suspected the resulting damage to the car was from a prior accident. And the list of odd cases went on. Each litigant (who, as the announcer reminded viewers each day, were not actors) stated his case before Joseph A. Wapner . After he was through asking questions, he retreated to his chambers before rendering his decision. More than once, he refused to support either side. Each litigant was then interviewed by the courtroom reporter (originally Doug Llewelyn from 1981-1993); sometimes, he gave the results of how courtroom spectators would have decided the case. Usually two cases were heard per show, though some longer cases took up the entire 30 minutes. If time permitted, Wapner fielded questions from the gallery; or legal expert Harvey Levin gave advice on handling that episode's legal scenario (i.e., confronting a car dealer about a car suspected to be a lemon). Each episode ended with Llewelyn admonishing viewers with some variation of the age old advice: "When you get mad, don't take the law into your own hands ... take 'em to court!" The original version of The People's Court ran for 12 years. When The People's Court returned to syndicated TV in 1997, the show expanded to 60 minutes, with Judge Ed Koch (the former New York City mayor) now presiding. Koch lasted until 1999, when Judge Jerry Scheindlin took over in 1999. Judge Marilyn Milian has presided since 2001. The format of the revised The People's Court was essentially similar, except the small claim's court limit was upped to $5,000. Sometimes, the interviewers also asked spectators on-camera their thoughts of a case before the judge's verdict was announced. Related Shows The People's Court UK Carol Smillie is set to present a new UK version of the People's Court for ITV1's new daytime line-up titled itv DAY.moreless

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 0/0/0

Season 2 : Episode 9

Marilyn Milian

Marilyn Milian

Herself/Judge (2001-)

Douglas MacIntosh

Douglas MacIntosh

Himself - the Court Officer (2001-)

Davy Jones

Davy Jones

Himself - the Court Officer (2001)

Rusty Burrell

Rusty Burrell

Bailiff (1981-93)

Ed Koch

Ed Koch

Judge (1997-99)

Harvey Levin

Harvey Levin


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    The judge is great for the show,I believe she is very fair. The idiot that interviews people after each case is completely RUDE. If he doesn't hear what he wants to hear he RUDELY blows them off. Get rid of this schmuck.
  • italians (white) peoples court

    Been watchin judge milians nationalism/ white supremacy too many years now! what percentage of her cases involving black people have resulted in a win for the black person? My estimates suggest nada!

    Does she choose her cases in a way that guarantees a loss if your black? Is she trying to perpetuate a myth of black legal ignorance? At any rate, it looks of more of the same white justice- black misery paradigmmoreless
  • ssi payee and debit card transactions

    hello my name is chelsea hokes my case is about my son and the ssi check i owe him for the month of oct 2015 ive gotten in touch with the merhants that i made my perchases from but my son antonio oliver wants my whole check so what i told him is the forst of nov 2015 i will pay him back 559.22 which is the amount i took from him and nothing more can u please help us resolve thismoreless
  • Ghosting Candles

    I just watched the rerun of you episode with a guy suing his landlords for his security deposit.

    They were keeping it for clean-up of black soot on the walls claiming it was from burning too many candles. They were partially correct.

    Years ago I purchased a large, three wicked bees wax candle at a renaissance festival. The vendor made sure to explain to me at great lengths NEVER to burn bees wax candles with paraffin candles at the same time or ALL electrical devices, to include electrical outlets, will develop a build up and black soot.

    I wish I could find the little write-up I was given so I could scan it and send it on.

    Sorry but the judge was wrong in this verdict.moreless
  • proper use of English

    Judge milian is proud of her spanish heritage. Not sure if this is why when she speaks the 2 syllable word "CHIMNEY" she likes to an another syllable, now making it be cute but not thw proper pronunciation. Check the dictionary- it is a 2 syllable word,not three. Surprised the producers of the show did not advise her of this.

More Info About This Show


long running show, Legal, mainstream america