Complaint Alleges Racial Screening of 'Judge Judy' Cases

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Complaint Alleges Racial Screening of 'Judge Judy' Cases

Fri Dec 28, 2007 @ 10:54AM PST

Posted by Eriq Gardner

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We've never been a fan of the TV judge shows. The level of legal discourse isn't exactly  in Clarence Darrow territory. Plus, none of the litigants use lawyers (and many of the arbiters of TV justice aren't actually judges in real life).

Now comes word that a former producer of the genre's 600-pound gorilla, "Judge Judy," isn't thrilled with the show. He filed a wrongful termination lawsuit on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming producers don't want black people on the program.

Jonathan Sebastien was fired from "Judge Judy" after working for more than seven years. In his complaint filed against Paramount, Big Ticket Television, CBS, and show supervisor Randy Douthit, Sebastien says that producers indicated that he was fired because "numbers were down," presumably referring to ratings. But Sebastien alleges the "real reason" he was let go was due to his opposition to the show's "discriminatory selection process."

Sebastien alleges Douthit told producers, "We're not doing any more black shows;" "I don't want to hear no black language on T.V.;" "I don't want to hear black people arguing;" and other comments. Sebastien, who is seeking unspecified damages, claims he submitted cases featuring African American people anyway, only to have them rejected and mocked by Douthit.

Producers weren't immediately available for response.

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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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