HOW I ALMOST MET JUDGE JUDY (AND ATE AN AWESOME BREAKFAST)

by Steve Clem on February 1, 2010

About two years ago, I almost met Judge Judy.

And I ate an awesome breakfast.

See, my girlfriend at the time, we’ll call her Macey, had this loser of a renter living in her basement who had skipped out after borrowing $1,000 to get his trucking company started.

So she filed a small claims court case against him in Hennepin County.

Apparently Judge Judy has an entourage, a team that just scours through every small claims court filing in the country every day and look for interesting ones.

And since when Macey filed the claim, she happened to include the fact that she knew the defendant from when they were in their early 20’s and had dated, well, Judge Judy saw some possible drama for her esteemed courtroom/studio.

When she asked me to go with her, with the tab paid for by Judge Judy herself, I was excited for a few days away from the cold Minnesota winter in sunny LA.

Little did I know…there wasn’t going to be much fun in the sun in LA.

Macey just started a new job before this trip, and only wanted to take one day to do it in, since it was unpaid. That was fine by me, as it was still a night and a day away from Minnesota in February.

We flew out after work the night before the big taping. The flight was pretty non-eventful, though we didn’t get into LA until very late, and there was essentially no time to do much other than just head to bed. But first we ordered our room service breakfast for the morning, paid for by Judge Judy herself.

After a night of dreaming about getting called to the witness stand during tomorrow’s big case, I woke up to a knock at the door. On the other side of the door was the best smelling/looking/tasting breakfast I’ve had in my life. And THAT was my single-most vivid memory of the trip.

After our breakfast, we planned to go sightseeing awhile before we had to be back to get ready for the show’s car (a taxi cab) to pick us up from the hotel in the afternoon. As we were getting ready to figure out where we wanted to wander off to, the hotel phone rang. It was Judge Judy herself. Or one of her people. They were running ahead of schedule and wanted to send the car (taxi cab) early. They would pick us up in 20 minutes.

Arriving at the Judge Judy studio, it was like walking into a mullet and tattoo convention. Kind of like a real courthouse.

The studio itself was an odd experience. More like entering a jail then a TV studio. They take cell phones, cameras, all electronics, and after going through a metal detectors, men with walkie talkies guide you through the hallways making sure you don’t run into your opposing party in the case.

In the green room, Judge Judy’s people (because Judge Judy herself was holding court, duh) coached Macey through what to say, and what not to say, all presumably to prolong the length of the trial, with as much drama as possible.

Then as she got ready to go in for the taping of her case, Macey asked Judge Judy’s people where I went to get into the studio audience. “Oh, he can’t go in, we’re sorry. We would have had to have done clearance ahead of time for that to happen. He can go to an individual green room and wait.”

Arriving in the individual green room, I turned on the TV in the room assuming that I could watch the taping live. Another of Judge Judy’s people came in to the room as I was switching channels trying to find the live feed.

“Can I help you find something to watch?” she asked. “Yeah, I’m looking for the live feed of the show.”

“Oh we don’t have that, sorry,” She replied.

Damn it.

10 minutes later, Macey came back into the green room. “What are you doing back already?” I asked her. “The dumbass said something that made the case end after about 5 minutes.” But she won her case.

Great, we got in earlier to the studio, and the taping was over, I thought. Now we can go do that sightseeing before we fly out tonight.

Apparently Judge Judy herself, or her people, at this point I don’t know, decided that we had to get on a cab to the airport that they pre-paid for, and we were not allowed to stop anywhere once we left the studio.

So here I was, enjoying LA like a movie star – inside the entire time…

The second coolest part of the trip happened at LAX on our return. While waiting to go through security, the TSA found a foot-long knife in the carry-on of a scary looking guy. We could see the whole thing, including the x-rays of the huge knife in the bag, due to the way they have the security lines snake behind the x-ray scanners.

“You think he’s a terrorist?” I asked Macey. “I don’t know, but I bet he’s not going anywhere on a plane tonight,” she replied.

We decided to make the most of our time at LAX waiting for our flight, and eat our final meal paid for by Judge Judy herself. As we finished up dinner and walked to our departure gate, we passed the scary looking dude with the knife. “How did he get through? If he’s on our flight I’m not getting on it,” Macey said.

I selfishly hoped he would board our flight so we could see more of LA tomorrow.

Instead we landed in the wee hours of the next morning in Minneapolis, and after scraping the snow and ice off the car, made our way out of Macey’s fifteen minutes of fame.

* * * *

Steve Clem originally published this piece on the blog A Prisoner in the Tundra.

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