Real-life judge investigated for trying to be fake TV judge

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Real-life judge investigated for trying to be fake TV judge

Tue Oct 12, 2010 @ 07:34PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Ht_Diana_Salcido_100507_mn Judge Judy makes $45 million a year. Who can blame other jurists for wanting the same?

The Commission on Judicial Performance, for one.

The agency is now investigating whether San Diego Superior Court Judge DeAnn Salcido acted improperly in her enthusiasm for getting on television. The commission has just released testimony gathered from its probe of the judge that suggests how far some magistrates are willing to go to deliver some TV justice.

According to Judge Salcido's testimony, on January 26, 2009, she had the husband of her courtroom bailiff videotape her on the bench presiding over a variety of matters. The hourlong tape was then passed onto an unnamed entertainment lawyer, who showed it to a TV producer.

Unfortunately, Judge Salcido didn't let any of the litigants involved in her proceedings that day know that they were being secretly taped.

She then did it again on May 1, 2009, after the producer asked to film an additional day of courtroom proceedings. Most of the participants in court that day had no idea that taping was going on.

Does the camera influence the way a judge conducts business?

Seems so.

In one of the cases, Salcido asked a defendant if he was born in 1980, and after he responded "yes," she responded "You look older than me. That's what smoking will do to you."

In another case, she noted that a man arrested for urinating in public had spent 72 days in custody, joking that it was "giving new meaning to the term 'zip it.'"

Her full snarkiness is detailed in 75 pages of testimony. It seems likely that Judge Salcido was trying to be as much like Judge Judy as she possibly could that day.

Asked whether she made improper remarks or engaged in improper conduct on May 1, she admits that she should not have said some of what she said.

Still, she denies that her conduct was unreasonable and says that she uses humor to "ease the tension" in the courtroom.

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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