My Day in Court

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It was November 2008. Election Day to be exact. I was scheduled to make an appearance in court.

People's Court Sign

The day started early, climbing into the car and making the trek to New York City. Once I found the building where I was scheduled to appear, I planted myself in a seat and patiently waited for my turn to enter the courtroom. Finally being summoned, and not knowing what to expect, I slowly walked into the courtroom of the honorable Judge Marilyn Milian. Yes, I was at The People’s Court.

Now before you go assuming that I was there as a litigant, I’ll put your mind at rest. My girlfriend at the time was a huge fan of court TV, so it only made sense to plan a day in NYC for her birthday, highlighted by being audience members at her favorite of the court show genre bunch.

We were all ushered into the courtroom, which looked a lot more like a television set than I was expecting (I’m easily fooled), where the producer carefully placed us in our viewing positions. I took pride in the fact that we were situated just over the shoulder of the defendant, equaling a greater chance for appearances during filming. The producer then announced that we’d be conducting a screen test before taping actually began, which required a mock plaintiff and defendant. A plaintiff was chosen from the audience members and once she took her place, I whispered to my girlfriend, “They’re totally going to pick me as the defendant.” The producer quickly scanned the remaining group and, sure enough, pointed directly at me.

People's Court TV Set

We joined the producer in the hallway and she gave us our instructions — walk down the short aisle, through the gate, and stand at our respective positions on her cue. As we waited, I commented on how awesome it would be if they played The People’s Court theme as we entered. The producer turned and said, “Oh, we are.” Suddenly that classic theme music flooded through the speakers…DUH NUH NUH, DUH NUH NUH NUH NUH. Feeling empowered, I marched into the courtroom to the sound of Curt Chaplin eloquently describing the accusations made against me. My moment of glory didn’t last long, but for a brief instant I had the privilege of taking part in a unique experience associated with an iconic television show. Day made.

The People's Court

Shortly thereafter, Judge Milian made her appearance, greeted us, and perched herself at the bench. We then had the chance to witness six different cases take place, complete with simple and not so simple problems, awkward stare downs, several retakes due to unnecessary foul language, short recesses, and litigants who genuinely disliked each other.

Judge Marilyn Milian

I was most surprised at the fact that cases were not filmed straight through in their entirety. Instead, litigants left the courtroom, new cases were heard, and the parties would return later to have their decisions rendered. After several hours of filming, the audience had the opportunity to enjoy a short Q&A session with Judge Milian, mill around the courtroom, and pose for memorable photographs.

It turned out that the only thing I was guilty of that day was having a whole lot of fun.

Ticket Details
Phone: 1-888-780-8587
Email: with name & telephone number
Tape days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Admission: Free

That's me behind the defendant's shoulder

That’s me behind the defendant’s shoulder