By Lane Vasquez
Judge Judy's guests may not have earned a ton of cash on the show.
Judge Judy made a living out of deciding her plaintiffs' cases, and in the process often got them the money they were owed. At least, if she agreed with their argument in favor of a payout. But just because Judge Judy herself made millions from Judge Judy, that doesn't mean her guests brought home a ton of money.
That said, some guests earned more than others, and it all depended on their case and how much time they spent filming the show.
Judy Sheindlin Amassed A $440 Million Net Worth On Judge Judy
As far as hit TV series go, hardly anyone expected a law show featuring everyday people and sometimes boring cases (this wasn't Jerry Springer!) to become so beloved. But the show grew so much that Judy was said to be making around $60 million per year at the height of the series.
That's not to say Judy didn't put in the work, of course; she spent 25 seasons (and just as many years) holding court for everything from paternity disputes to money owed between former friends.
Judy earned every right to spend her massive $440 million net worth on any ridiculous thing she wants, being the star of the show and the reason people continued to tune in after so many years.
The show did need guests to keep going, of course, which meant that the production team had to be on the lookout for potentially interesting cases.
Getting people to come on the show may not have been difficult, but it probably helped that in addition to the possibility of getting their small claims cases sorted, guests could also earn money for their appearance and even their time.
How Much Do Guests Make On Judge Judy?
Earnings from Judge Judy apparently varied widely throughout its seasons, and it seems no exact figures have ever been released. However, Distractify reported that various litigants provided earnings information, saying they received anywhere from $100 to $500.
That appearance fee was in addition to any settlement amount that Judge Judy ordered, so if someone was heading to small claims court, they could leave the set with as much as $5,000 per California's limits. In some cases, they could walk away with a bit more, depending on the other fees that are reportedly paid.
- Though Judge Judy appeared to be based in New York, it was actually filmed in a studio in California, so it's safe to assume that the court decisions were legal in that state, and followed California's guidelines on settlements.
Does Judge Judy Pay People To Travel To California?
Distractify also suggests that guests receive a stipend for their time; the amount is said to be $35 per day they are in town. The publication also says that the show covers airfare and hotel expenses, but it's unclear whether that has been confirmed.
On the Judge Judy website's submission form, the terms and conditions don't mention travel, accommodations, or stipends. Other sources say that the show doesn't pay for guest travel, and the terms do specify that the defendants may be on the hook for attorney's fees, depending on the outcome of the case and the expenses involved.
People claiming to be in the know regarding Judge Judy policies echo the claim that the show pays for flights, hotels, meals, and other expenses. One commenter said that both the plaintiff and defendant are offered free flights, hotels, and meals and that the appearance fee could be different for the plaintiff versus the defendant.
The same commenter suggested that "Producers may also cover additional expenses and have been known to pay for clothing, hairdressers, fake teeth and incidental needs to bring the poor and unwashed masses up to a minimum standard to appear on TV."
Other commenters suggested that the settlement amounts don't come out of either party's pocket, but that does not seem to be the case. Instead, the terms and conditions seem to agree with commenters who stated that Judge Judy's decisions are arbitration (private judge style) rather than an actual court decision.
Further, the guests on the show sign paperwork saying they won't pursue the same case elsewhere.
Various commenters pointed out that even faking a case, with the production team's blessing, has happened and is apparently just as good for ratings as actual cases.
Is Judge Judy Still On?
Judge Judy ended in 2021, but Judy herself isn't done with TV just yet. Judge Judy Sheindlin began appearing in Judy Justice the same year her previous show ended. The spinoff (a streaming offering featuring a different cast) is a modernized version of Judy's original show, but the stakes are also higher.
Judy Justice permits its plaintiffs to file cases worth up to $10,000, which the older series did not do, although it's possible it could have within California small claims law.
The higher stakes might make for more exciting shows—and more income for its already well-heeled judge.
Distractify also suggests that guests receive a stipend for their time; the amount is said to be $35 per day they are in town. The publication also says that the show covers airfare and hotel expenses, but it's unclear whether that has been confirmed.Do losers pay on Judge Judy? ›
#5—On Judge Judy, the losing party doesn't pay.
When you win a lawsuit in a real small claims court, the next step will be collecting the judgment. In some cases the other party will pay right away in order to put the matter behind them.
This meant that within a single day, she would film enough episodes for a week, earning approximately $900,000 per week for her role as a TV judge. In 2015, Judge Judy entered the Guinness World Records as the longest-serving judge in TV history, cementing her status as an iconic figure in the industry.Is Judge Judy's partner a female? › Do people agree to be on Judge Judy? ›
One key aspect of court TV shows like Judge Judy, is that both parties have to agree to be on the show. If one party doesn't agree, the case will not be featured on the court tv show.Has Judge Judy ever been sued? ›
Lawsuits. In March 2013, a lawsuit was filed against Sheindlin by Patrice Jones, the estranged wife of Randy Douthit (executive producer of Sheindlin's Judge Judy and later Judy Justice court shows).Who pays the lawsuits on Judge Judy? ›
TV judges make their decision on the case and either decide for the plaintiff, in which case the show's producers award them a judgment fee, or with the defendant, in which case the producers award both parties with an appearance fee.Why is Judge Judy's granddaughter on her show? ›
"Judge Judy" aired for 25 years before it came to an end. The tough-talking former New York family court judge's popularity made her the highest-paid personality on TV. When it came time for her second act, the TV star asked her granddaughter to join her as her new law clerk.Why do the people on Judge Judy have to leave their paperwork? ›
The participants' travel expenses are paid by the show, as are the monetary settlements. The papers that can't be removed could be anything: their contracts for the show, the settlement agreements, NDAs, etc. The fact that they can't take the paperwork is outlined in the contracts they sign to be on the show.Who pays who on Judge Judy? ›
The judgments on Judge Judy are paid by the producers of the show, as part of the show's contract with the participants. The show pays. It's like a guest fee. It takes about a month to get paid.
Submit Your Case - Judge Judy. If you have a case you'd like Judge Judy to hear - fill out this form and a representative from the show will contact you if additional information is required. All lines with an asterisk * must be filled out or we cannot accept your submission.How much does Judge Judy's bailiff make per episode? ›
This level of filming is able to produce about 260 episodes each season, which air on over 200 stations in the United States. Although the salary numbers seem high, Bailiff Byrd earns about $4,000 per episode. Do Judge Judy's cases get paid?Who pays settlements on hot bench? ›
If you look in the small print all the way at the end of each episode of Hot Bench, you'll see the disclosure about payment. It says, “Monetary awards are paid from a fund maintained by the producer.” It was also reported in Forbes that each person receives a “small” appearance fee.