We all know and love Judge Judy from her long-running TV show, but do you ever wonder how her career began?
It turns out before America knew Judith Sheindlin for her no-nonsense attitude, she was using it for a good cause. Sheindlin grew up in New York City's Brooklyn neighborhood and became a lawyer. She worked in the city's family courts as a prosecutor, handling cases of child abuse, juvenile crime and domestic violence.
Throughout Manhattan's legal community, Sheindlin was known for being tough-as-nails, and described as "shrill" and "testy" by her colleagues. Those qualities earned her a spot as a family court judge, and once she was in charge of her courtroom she became known as the "Evil Queen" of Manhattan Family Court.
Along with Sheindlin's sharp wit and feisty personality - which was the same back then as it is today - she became known as a speedy and talented judge. In the overloaded New York court system, she regularly handled over 20 cases a day, and more than 300 in a month.
Soon, reporters were writing articles about Sheindlin and her unique judicial style, but it was her classic interview with 60 Minutes that made "Judge Judy" a household name.
In her interview with the late Morley Safer, Sheindlin discussed her one-woman crusade to improve New York's family court system.
Throughout her career as a judge, Sheindlin handled 20,000 cases involving broken homes, wayward teens, and neglected children. She explains that what kept her going throughout the years was the handful of cases "where I can make a real positive difference."
“You can put families back together again," she said, "you can find the right place for a kid who’s in trouble, you can make a difference in the life of a family.” But she added that you need to "break a sweat" to actually accomplish anything.
“The goal is to get them to do the right thing. Nobody who comes into my courtroom who’s done the right thing is afraid.” And that was the philosophy that Sheindlin carried into her hit TV show.
After the 60 Minutes interview, and the release of her bestselling book Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining, Sheindlin was offered to star in a groundbreaking new reality show.
Of course Judge Judy is still on the air in its 26th season today. The series has made Sheindlin America's highest paid TV personality, earning $47 million in 2013. Ironically, years ago Sheindlin worried that her "no-nonsense" personality would put her out of a job. Now it's the reason why millions of people love her!
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