If you were to ask random people if they have ever witnessed an arbitration, most would tell you no. The truth is though, almost all of us have seen several of them.
Where? Well, do you remember kind, old Judge Wapner who pioneered modern daytime courtroom TV shows with introduction of The People's Court back in 1981? Or Judge Judy? Although Joseph Wapner and Judy Scheindlin really were judges in real life, they only portrayed judges on television. The fact is, they and all of the other TV judges preside over arbitrations
on television, not small claims court trials.
It is all perfectly legal because arbitration is a well-established and well-recognized alternative to small claims court, and the parties have knowingly signed arbitration agreements with the shows, agreeing to dismiss their lawsuits and have their dispute arbitrated in The People's Court, or Judge Judy's courtroom, or Judge Joe Brown's, etc.
Here is a list of the more popular shows and the arbitrators who play the role of judges.
1- In 1997, Judge Joe Brown presided over James Earl Ray's final appeal of his conviction for murdering Martin Luther King Jr.
|TV Show||Arbitrator ("Judge")||TV Seasons|
|America's Court||Kevin A. Ross||2010-present|
|Animal Court||Joseph Wapner||1998-2000|
|Christina's Court||Christina Perez||2006-present|
|Divorce Court||Voltaire Perkins||1957-1969|
|Divorce Court||William Keene||1985-1992|
|Divorce Court||Mablean Ephriam||1999-2006|
|Divorce Court||Lynn Toler||2006-present|
|Eye for an Eye||"Extreme" Akim Anastopoulo||2003-present|
|Family Court, Judge Penny||Penny Brown Reynolds||2008-present|
|Judge Alex||Alex Ferrer » In the news ...||2005-present|
|Judge David Young||David Young||2007-present|
|Judge Faith||Faith Jenkins||2014-present|
|Judge Hatchett||Glenda Hatchett||2000-present|
|Judge Jeanine Pirro||Jeanine Ferris Pirro||2008-present|
|Judge Joe Brown Show||Joe Brown1||1998-present|
|Judge Judy||Judy Scheindlin||1996-present|
|Judge Karen||Karen Mills-Francis||2008-present|
|Judge Maria Lopez||Maria Lopez||2006-present|
|Judge Mathis||Greg Mathis||1999-present|
|Judge Mills Lane||Mills Lane2||1998-2001|
|Moral Court||Larry Elder||2000-2001|
|Power of Attorney||Andrew Napolitano||2000-2001|
|Power of Attorney||Lynn Toler||2001-2002|
|Swift Justice||Nancy Grace||2010-2011|
|Swift Justice||Jackie Glass3||2011-present|
|Texas Justice||Larry Joe Doherty||2001-2005|
|The People's Court||Joseph Wapner||1981-1993|
|The People's Court||Ed Koch||1997-1999|
|The People's Court||Jerry Scheindlin||1999-2001|
|The People's Court||Marilyn Milian||2001-present|
2- In 1997 as a professional boxing referree, Mills Lane disqualified Mike Tyson for biting off part of Evander Holyfield's ear
3- In 2008, Judge Glass sent O.J. Simpson to prison for armed robbery and kidnapping