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Himself - the Court Officer (2001)
Judge (1997-99)
Interviewer (1981-93)
Judge (1981-1993)
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