Is Jerry Springer a real judge? All about his legal background

Jerry Springer earned international fame hosting the controversial Jerry Springer Show. Springer served as a mediator between feuding guests, who brought family drama and cheating accusations before the reality TV star. Guests often abused each other, and at times, the disagreements boiled over, leading to physical altercations. 

The Jerry Springer Show fit snug into the trash TV genre, but fans didn’t mind: it ran for 27 seasons and became a pop culture phenomenon. 

Springer’s current show, Judge Jerry, also involves conflict but is much more restrained than The Jerry Springer Show. As the title suggests, Jerry serves as a judge, handing out rulings to feuding Americans. 

Jerry needed special certification as a judge to preside over court cases

Jerry Springer is a real judge empowered to rule over civil claims. Jerry needed special certification to become a civil claims judge, and thanks to his legal background, the process went smoothly. 

In the late 60s, Springer earned a Doctor of Law degree from Northwestern University. From 1973 to 1985, he was a partner in the law firm of Grinker, Sudman, & Springer. 

“You get special certification, and I’m a lawyer,” Jerry talked to the New York Post about his show. “You have to be certified [to be a judge]; it’s a day thing and if you’re a lawyer it’s almost automatic unless you’ve killed someone.”

Springer thought that he would have retired by now, but he accepted NBC’s pitch for a legal show. He continued:

“Even though [‘Jerry Springer’] was crazy I never got crazy — I’m always wearing a suit, I don’t curse and I wasn’t in fights throwing Jell-O. I love doing [‘Judge Jerry’] because it’s the first grownup job I’ve had in 30 years. I have to do research and I have to remember what I learned in law school and practicing law. I really do my homework.”

Springer takes time to research cases as the outcomes affect real people

Jerry’s court takes between 30 and 35 cases a week and films every two weeks. Springer uses the non-filming week to research the cases and the laws applicable to them. 

Springer stated that people don’t know that they’ll appear on a TV show before featuring on Judge Jerry. The show deals with real people and issues, so he feels obligated to offer sound judgments. Jerry continued:

“These are real cases, and whatever I decide that’s it, therefore I’m real conscious of treating these people with respect because these issues are important to them. The judgments are $5,000 or less, and for a lot of people $5,000 isn’t chump change.”

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