The Sunday Funnies & Factoids
by Keith Lennox for All-len-All – 07/13/14
Hey, gang. Hope this finds you all healthy and happy. Welcome back for your weekly dose of The Sunday Funnies & Factoids. Beautiful weather happening up here north of the 49th…..sunny skies, mid 70s, slight breeze. Yowzah !!!!! I hope the weather gods are smiling down on each and every one of you….. on with the show.
1) Judge Judy reportedly makes $47 million a year. What kind of legal power comes with it?
While Judith Sheindlin was a real, live judge — New York City Mayor Ed Koch appointed her to criminal court in 1982 and then made her Manhattan’s supervising family court judge in 1986 — she’s not acting as one on her show. Neither are any of the other daytime TV judges (whether they passed the bar and served as actual judges or not).
TV court shows don’t take place in real courtrooms and they don’t feature real trials, though they are usually real cases — the producers often contact parties who have pending litigation in small claims court and offer them the opportunity to appear on TV instead. What you’re seeing on these TV court shows is really just arbitration playing dress up in small claims court’s clothes.
Arbitration is a legal method for resolving disputes outside the court. The disputing parties present their cases to a neutral, third-party arbitrator or arbitrators who hear the case, examine the evidence, and make a (usually binding) decision. Like a court-based case, arbitration is adversarial, but generally less formal in its rules and procedures.
The power that Judge Judy and the rest of the TV arbitrators have over the disputing parties is granted by a contract, specific to their case, that they sign before appearing on the show. These contracts make the arbitrators’ decision final and binding, prevent the disputing parties from negotiating the terms of the arbitration, and allow the “judges” wide discretion on procedural and evidentiary rules during the arbitration.
From one of Judge Judy’s old contracts: “The Arbitrator’s Decision and her interpretation and application of laws and principles she uses in arriving at the Decision, shall be final and binding upon the parties hereto.”
TV judges make their decision on the case and either decide for the plaintiff, in which case the show’s producers award them a judgment fee, or with the defendant, in which case the producers award both parties with an appearance fee. This system seems to skew things in favor of the defendants, and gives them an incentive to take their case from court to TV. If they have a weak case, appearing on the show absolves them of any financial liability, and if they have a strong case, they stand to earn an appearance fee along with their victory.
If one party or the other doesn’t like the arbitrator’s decision, it can really only be successfully appealed if it addresses a matter outside the scope of the contract. In 2000, Judge Judy had one of her decisions overturned for that reason by the Family Court of Kings County. In the case B.M. v. D.L., the parties appeared in front of Sheindlin to solve a personal property dispute. Sheindlin ruled on that dispute, but also made a decision on the parties’ child custody and visitation rights. One of the parties appealed in court, and the family court overturned the custody and visitation part of the decision because they weren’t covered by the agreement to arbitrate.
While these court shows can be entertaining, social scientists and legal scholars worry about their effect on viewers’ perception of how courts work and apply justice. In a survey of litigants in small claims court in 1988, the height of popularity of The People’s Court, researchers were shocked by how often the show was mentioned when talking about expectations of the justice system, and suspected that the show may have had a major influence on some people’s decision to even go to court and on the way they prepared their case.
3) According to the legends of Belgium and the Netherlands, St. Nicholas — generally referred to as Sinterklaas — comes from Spain by, uh, steam boat to give gifts to children. This is the version of Santa that first started keeping a list of children who’ve been naughty or nice. Nowadays, Sinterklaas and Santa Claus are two different entities to the kids of these nations, and Sinterklass gives them presents while Santa Claus does jack shit.
4) The genetic mutation that causes red hair also causes redheads to be more resistant to anesthesia. They can require up to 25% more than patients of other hair colors.
5) The word “unfriend” appeared in print all the way back in 1659.
6) A Mercurian day is longer than its year.
7) Fish cough. Now, there’s a factoid for ya’ !
8) President James Garfield could write Greek with one hand while simultaneously writing Latin with the other.
10) When I see lovers’ names carved in a tree, I don’t think its cute. I just think it’s crazy how many people bring knives on a date.
11) Although better known for its food items, Sara Lee introduced the Wonderbra to the United States in 1994. Huh !!
12) On the 2011 Czech Republic census, over 15,000 people listed their religion as “Jedi.”
13) My two HUGE phobias: Pediophobia – The fear of dolls. Coulrophobia – The fear of clowns.
14) Two-thirds of the world’s lawyers live in the United States. Ummmm, not good, people. Not good at all.
15) In present day politics, a sex scandal can destroy a career. However, when Grover Cleveland ran for President, it was rumored that he fathered an illegitimate child. He took responsibility and the American public elected him to the White House anyway.
Thanks for stopping by, gang. Have a wonderful Sunday and an even better week ahead. See you in seven days right back here and don’t forget to pay it forward at least once this week.