Written by S. Bowyer


     Judge Judith Sheindlin of Judge Judy, the court show hit now in its 19 season, has created a new show, called Hot Bench. Its idea was sparked from a recent experience she had.

     "When my husband Jerry and I were in Ireland recently," she said, "we visited the courts and watched a three judge bench, which I found both fascinating and compelling. . . I immediately thought what a terrific and unique idea for a television program that brings the court genre to the next level."

     Upon returning to the US, Sheindlin began production on the show, with executive producer, Randy Douthit. They casted a panel of three judges that hear the cases, then deliberate their verdict in a majority-rules decision. 

     "We have assembled three individuals with extremely varied backgrounds to serve as the judges. They are smart and talented, with terrific instincts and great chemistry, and are sure to create a 'hot bench,'" Sheindlin said.


From Left: Judge Tanya Acker, Judge Patricia DiMango and Judge Larry Bakman

     Judge Patricia DiMango was serving in the New York Supreme Court prior to being contracted on Hot Bench. She earned a Juris Doctor from the St. John's University School of Law. She began in state criminal cases, and moved onto small claims arbitration, teaching at colleges, and lectured to societies and Legal Aid. Mayor Giuliani appointed her as the first Italian-American woman to sit on the criminal court bench in the city of New York.

     Judge Tanya Acker was working as a civil litigator in business law. She chose to join Hot Bench because she felt it was an exciting concept. "I started working for a judge who was in a three judge panel in Federal court," she states. "and I had great respect for that dynamic -- watching three birilliant legal minds come together as I did as a young lawyer."

     Judge Larry Bakman said the Hot Bench offer was surreal compared to his typical career. Bakman has been in private practice for over 30 years and states it felt a scary proposition to suddenly be in the limelight.

 

 

      Not only does the show give the viewers a three judge panel and in-court testimonial as seen on many court programs, but we are priveleged to see the behind-the-scenes deliberations. What is most interesting is that often cases can be tried in varying ways, based on different ethics or models, for example, the first case of Hot Bench, where a man wants his dog returned that friends have been minding for him. The judges argued between using the foster parent model, where the dog will always be the primary owners and should be returned when conditions are corrected, or an adoption model, where new parents take precendence because they already have a current long-term standing with the animal. 

      In deliberation of this case, we get to understand that the judges had a difficult task of deciding what ethics should be focused on. Many of the cases I've seen have been in similar situations. There is debate, there is disagreement, but there is a majority vote in conclusion.

      Hot Bench  is now airing on US TV, as well as YouTube.

     Judy Judy continues to rate well on US television, and is enjoying her 19th season. In celebration of her newest series of Judge Judy, she has offered her book, What Would Judy Say: Be the Hero of Your Own Story for free. 

 

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