Dear Sun Spots: On all those judge shows on TV, when the judge rules for the plaintiff for a said amount, I was curious to know if the plaintiff ever gets paid by the defendant?

What if they decide not to abide by the ruling and not pay the judgment? Who enforces the judge’s ruling?

I think a lot of other people would like to know the same question. Thanking you. – No Name, Lewiston.


Answer: A representative from the American Bar Association said they have no direct involvement with these programs, but that parties to a dispute can agree to use alternatives to formal court proceedings to resolve their disagreements. In cases such as these, they are bound by contract to accept the outcome before they know what the outcome will be.

Sun Spots also had the pleasure of speaking with Michael Asimow, a law professor at UCLA law school and the editor of the book “Lawyers in Your Living Room: Law on Television” who explained that the cases for the television programs are taken from a list of pending small claims court cases.

Show producers find the cases, then contact the parties involved and get them to agree to be on television. They will sign a contract, which makes the decisions binding.

Asimow said it is in the interest of both parties involved to agree to the contract. If the plaintiff wins the judgment, the show will pay the damages. If the defendant wins, the plaintiff still gets some money for their appearance on the show.

He also explained that anyone can be an arbitrator, or the neutral person that settles the dispute. So, while the the judges on television don’t have to be judges, most of them have worked in the courtroom as judges previously. Once the contracts are signed and the decision is made by the arbitrator, the case cannot be tried elsewhere.

Dear Sun Spots: Wales Central School is in need of a projection screen that is 10 feet across or larger. We borrow one for school and community events when needed, but that need is increasing as more programs have a video/graphics component. Contact Carol Brocker, school nurse at 375-6995, ext. 117, or [email protected] Thank you! – Carol, Mechanic Falls.


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