Step aside Judge Judy. Take a seat Judge Joe Brown. Bet you (or Rusty, your trusty and curiously armed bailiff) never saw this coming, Judge Wapner. Behold: what could be a new low in both reality television and court TV, all wrapped in one weird little “episode.”
The star of this episode is San Diego Judge DeAnn Salcido, who allegedly saw fit to turn one day in the life of her courtroom – not a set of some TV show, but an actual, publicly-funded courtroom full of real litigants – into an audition tape, which she then sent (aided by her bailiff’s husband…no, we’re not making this up) to an entertainment lawyer. The goal? Get Salcido on TV so she could share her judicial wit and wisdom with the world.
And just how witty and wise are we talking here? As reported by Debra Cassens Weiss on abajournal.com, here’s a glimpse of some of the things the judge is accused of doing in court:
• Telling a defendant who spent 72 days in custody after being arrested on a charge of urinating in public that the jail stay gives “new meaning to the term ‘zip it.’ ”
• Warning a defendant on probation that if he commits another crime “you will definitely be screwed and we don’t offer Vaseline for that.”
• Asked courtroom spectators for a “woo, woo, woo” after learning a defendant had tested positive for marijuana.
• Asked a defendant who said he heard voices to tell her if they said, “Hurt the judge, hurt the judge.”
Oh, and the wit and wisdom is allegedly portable, since the judge is also accused of joking about “booty calls” outside of court. What’s wrong with that? She allegedly made them in reference to a domestic violence case.
(Yeah, not sure the FCC would sign-off on that, Judge.)
In her statement of defense, Salcido argues that this is a witch (or judge) hunt, and that the complainant deceptively focuses on 38 comments out of the 12,000 she’s made over the last year and a half – which have nothing to do with booty calls and the like.
Still though, Salcido doesn’t back away from her “38 comments” – on the contrary, she sees them as examples of an enlightened approach from the bench (and you through Night Court was wacky).
“I have found the use of humor and a ‘tough love’ approach to be very successful in getting through to the criminal defendants and helping them see the benefits of cleaning up their lives,” Salcido said. “I believe the time is now ripe for our judicial system to begin examining whether the traditional demeanour and approach of the judiciary is the best means for accomplishing justice, particularly in a rapidly changing world with a culturally diverse population.”
Perhaps, perhaps not.
For now, all we want to know is where’s the remote?