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Sunday, November 06, 2011

"Ask the Judge" Column continues in La Prensa, 11-6

Ask the Judge: The Judge Judy Court, Part 3
By Judge Steve Walker

In the last two “Ask the Judge” columns I informed the reader how one qualifies for the Judge Judy Show from Justice of the Peace Court Small Claims docket, and how in our court we are not allowed to act or talk like Judge Judy under penalty of reprimand, suspension or removal from the bench.

As stated in those columns, the nationally syndicated television shows send their regional producers into our court to discover “juicy” cases that will lend themselves to reality television. Predictably they are able to dig them out and put them on air.

Meanwhile in the reality of the Justice of the Peace Court where thousands of those cases are heard on a daily basis by JPs in courtrooms all over the country, our cases sometimes border on the absurd as well as on the reality shows themselves.

Despite the fact that I have a prepared spiel I present to those present in the court to remind those in the courtroom that I am NOT Judge Mathis, Judge Alex or especially Judge Judy, people still want to act as if they are on reality television.

Unexpected incidents occur when we least expect them and defendants and plaintiffs alike sometimes go off the deep end so to speak.

Despite the fact I remind them that they are not allowed to call the other person in the case, a liar, cheat, thief or talk about their “mama!” they do it anyway at their own risk.

On more than one occasion I have come very close to citing the participants for contempt of court. By law I can remand them to the Bexar County Detention Facility downtown for a minimum of 24 hours up to a maximum of 72 hours for unbecoming behavior or inappropriate language.

It is interesting to note than on few occasions in my courtroom, I have discovered that the real reason the plaintiff is suing the defendant has nothing to do with the case before me.

In other words, they are upset at the defendant for some perceived slight and their response is to take them to court to retaliate and publicly embarrass them in a court of law.

One example that has actually occurred in my court in the past three years more than once, has been when a plaintiff sues the defendant because they were initially sued by the defendant and lost a small claims case in a previous court appearance.

Translated: the plaintiff sues for the same amount that they lost in a judgment to the defendant in a prior case, believing they will win their money back under different circumstances!! That would be classified as naïve or delusional!

As a Judge I can assure the reader that the Small Claims docket is never dull or boring.

Lastly as always, if you are due in court, be sure to show up to court on time. It is in everyone’s best interest.”

Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2 Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and a former Journalist.

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