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Judge Judy lays down the law – follow the US by putting cameras into Irish courtrooms

SHE pioneered an open-court policy, in turn reinventing the courtroom with her long-running television programme.

Judge Judy Sheindlin believes we should adopt a similar approach to the American judiciary and allow the installation of cameras in Irish courtrooms, to protect the system from "bad lawyers and judges".

"People in the US pay a great deal of money to support their judiciary and they have an actual right to see how it functions," said the 70-year-old.

"Cameras should be the norm everywhere. It should be in every courtroom, so that the proceedings are taken down and recorded just like stenography.

"The problem with audio tapes is that sometimes they don't work or you can't hear them. The problem with stenographers is that they're a dying breed and then no one else can read their notes.

"With cameras, there's a perpetual loop – and it's easier when you're reviewing cases."

The tough-talking personality brought her quick wit to Irish shores this week, to receive the award of vice-presidency of UCD's Law Society.

Judge Judy was welcomed last night by more than 500 students as she was honoured for her lifetime contribution to family law.

Accompanied by her husband, Jerry, she also spoke about how her life changed in 1996, when she retired from the bench and began her no-nonsense daytime TV series, 'Judge Judy'. Running for 17 years and recently commissioned for four more seasons, the series attracts over nine million viewers in the US alone. It is licensed in over 120 global markets.

The television show features Judge Judy dealing with civil cases in a set mocked up to look like a real courtroom. It deals with small claims disputes, up to $5,000 (€3,800) and prior to proceedings the participants sign contracts agreeing to abide by her judgment.

Famous

Judge Judy said that despite her fame she is kept grounded. "I was a grown-up when 'celebrity' happened. So I knew exactly what it was like to be in line at a restaurant and watch someone famous walk in and get a table immediately. I knew I didn't like that . . . I don't want to make somebody else feel the way I felt."

Previous recipients of awards from the UCD Law Society include former President Mary Robinson; former Chief Justice of the Irish Supreme Court the Hon John L Murray; and the Hon Mr Justice Diarmuid O'Scannlain of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.

Irish Independent