Fans have spent the last twenty-five years watching Judge Judy Sheindlin make all the decisions inside her TV courtroom, but unfortunately for the beloved legal lady, she doesn’t have quite as much say in legal matters outside her courtroom. The highly paid TV star has been locked in an extended and pretty mean-spirited lawsuit with Rebel Entertainment Partners over profit participation related to her popular show, and after Sheindlin’s latest loss, it looks like the matter is going to head to trial. If the pace at which the proceedings have happened so far continues, however, it could be a long time before anything gets resolved.
The case has a lot of specifics to it, but at its core, it’s a disagreement over profits related to the sale of past Judge Judy episodes a few years ago. The transaction was for $95M and talent agent Richard Lawrence thinks he should be entitled to his share of the profits. His company, Rebel Entertainment Partners, sued last year for a cut of the money, and the two sides have gone back and forth since. Most recently, Sheindlin’s legal team tried to get the suit thrown out by arguing Rebel didn’t have any standing to sue as a third party beneficiary, but according to Deadline, a judge ruled against the TV personality. The case now looks like it will head to trial, which Judge Judy apparently welcomes. Check out her delightful statement below...
Richard Lawrence has garnered 22 plus million dollars although I have seen him only once in an elevator since our program began 25 years ago. I look forward to a trial.
Exactly how Richard Lawrence and Judge Judy’s paths crossed is complicated. You can read more about it in this Hollywood Reporter article, but the basic gist is Lawrence represented two producers who had conversations with Judge Judy about a possible TV career. The producers didn’t end up staying with the show long-term, but Lawrence has netted millions as part of how the deal was initially set up, allegedly far more than the departed producers even got. Those original producers, Kaye Switzer and Sandi Spreckman, have also been involved in lawsuits, allegedly against both Lawrence and Sheindlin.
If Judge Judy’s statement seemed a little aggressive, it’s because both sides have a long history of dropping really aggressive statements about each other. During a prior lawsuit, lawyers for Sheindlin and CBS blasted Rebel Entertainment and accused them of leaving their clients “totally unprotected” in the event they were fired in a blistering statement. Richard Lawrence’s attorneys haven’t been shy about returning fire and even recently dropped one calling Judge Judy “cruel, petty and vindictive.”
I’m not going to speculate on where this case is going, but I will say this is a nice lens into the behind the scenes of the entertainment industry. Profit participation and residuals and payouts can get in the millions very quickly with popular shows, and it’s often the case that people who aren’t directly involved in the day to day production can do quite well financially, though exactly how well anyone here does will rest on how a judge sees it.