With her outspoken style, hard-hitting decisiveness and engaging wit, Judge Judith Sheindlin single-handedly reinvented the courtroom genre and in the process has become a pop culture icon.. A former New York family court judge known for her ability to cut through a dispute and get to the core of the emotional issue at hand, Judge Judy acts as a true moral compass for people seeking guidance, resolution and common sense in their lives. Judge Judy’s goal is to make a lasting impression that will discourage repeat offenders and help heal families and victims of injustice. There are many imitators, but only one Judge Judy!


Judge Judith Sheindlin


Having made a name for herself as a tough but fair judge in New York’s Family Court, Judge Judith Sheindlin retired from the bench in 1996 to bring her trademark wit and wisdom to the widely successful series that takes viewers inside a television courtroom where justice is dispensed at lightning speed.

Judge Judith Sheindlin’s career in family court began in 1972, prosecuting juvenile delinquency cases for the state of New York. Although an emotionally taxing job, Sheindlin knew right away she had found her calling, quickly developing a reputation as a sharp, no-nonsense lawyer. In 1982, New York’s then-Mayor, Edward Koch, appointed Sheindlin to the bench in the Family Court.

Four years later, she was appointed the Supervising Judge in Manhattan and since then, has heard over 20,000 cases in her career. A swift decision-maker with no tolerance for excuses, Sheindlin earned a reputation as one of New York’s toughest judges. While on the bench, her message was simple — take responsibility for yourself, your actions and the children you’ve brought into the world.

After her appearance on popular newsmagazine show 60 Minutes, Judge Sheindlin was approached about the possibility of presiding over real cases with real consequences in a television courtroom. Intrigued by the notion of bringing her no-nonsense message to a national audience, she agreed. Shortly thereafter, Judge Judy became a reality, premiering in national syndication on September 16, 1996. When asked about her decision to hang up her robes for television, Judge Judith Sheindlin comments, “For 24 years, I tried to change the way families deal with problems on a very small scale, one case at a time. Now I can use the skills I have developed and take my message to more people everyday.”

Petri Hawkins Byrd


A native of Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Hawkins-Byrd (“Byrd”) received his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1989. While attending college, Byrd worked as a court officer in the Brooklyn Family Court system. In 1986, he was transferred to the Manhattan Family Court system, where he worked on a rotating basis with all the judges, including Judge Judy. “I was never bored in her courtroom,” he muses. “Her get-to-the-point style didn’t always sit well with the litigants, and there were times she was definitely glad to have me around.”

In 1990, Byrd relocated to San Mateo, California, to become a Special Deputy U.S. Marshall. In 1993, he accepted an offer to work as a student counselor at Monta Vista High School in Santa Clara, California. Three years later, after reading a story in Liz Smith’s column about Judge Judy, her new book and her upcoming television project, Byrd decided to send a letter congratulating the Judge and, jokingly asked if she would be interested in having him serve at her side again. To his surprise, Judge Judy returned Byrd’s letter with a phone call and accepted the offer.

In addition to his work on Judge Judy, Byrd has appeared numerous times on stage as a stand-up comedian and actor. He has also acted in films, television, commercials, as well as provided voice-over work for radio, television and video games. Byrd’s success has also made him a sought-after motivational speaker. In his spare time, he sings and writes music.

Byrd resides in Sacramento with his wife and four children.