This Houston-based series profiles several black, female attorneys who tackle some of the toughest legal cases in Texas. The women, some of whom have known one another for decades, form a tight bond to help themselves succeed in a male-dominated profession. The featured women include Jolanda, who aims to provide justice for poor defendants; criminal lawyer Vivian, who went to law school at age 30 after leaving her banking career; civil attorney Rhonda, who specializes in class-action lawsuits and has won cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court; public defender Juanita, who has handled over 2500 cases and was previously a partner in a firm with Rhonda; criminal attorney Monique, who has grown to enjoy being able to help people get out of tough situations; and civil lawyer Tiye, the wife of a well-known attorney.
Many popular court shows are on TV. How can the genre improve? How about using a three-judge panel? That's the concept of "Hot Bench," created by Judge Judy Sheindlin. After hearing each case, the judges discuss it among themselves before rendering a verdict. The jurists are experienced civil litigator Tanya Acker, New York State Supreme Court Justice Patricia DiMango, and former criminal defense attorney Larry Bakman. The show's title comes from a term describing a court action in which a judge frequently interrupts lawyers with questions.
Different than other court shows, "Lauren Lake's Paternity Court" acts only on family issues. There are no battles over rent money or damages caused by a car accident, these emotional cases can have life-changing consequences for participants and sometimes new beginnings for individuals. While most suits relate to a child's paternity -- including deadbeat dads and DNA-test determinations -- others involve things like grandparents fighting for visitation rights. Lake's lengthy legal career has specialized in family law, making her a natural fit for this court.
Judge Mablean Ephriam, who presided over "Divorce Court" from 1999-2006 as the first star of the revived version of the show, returns to the courtroom genre with his half-hour series that deals with life and the law. The former Los Angeles-based prosecutor takes on the typical cases that are found on TV court shows. The arbitrator says that her show "will be life because everything we do, it involves the law."
Karen Mills-Francis was a county court judge and criminal defense attorney in Florida before turning to TV to preside over her own court shows. In her third effort, "Supreme Justice," Mills-Francis tackles small-claims court arbitrations in her compassionate way, to which viewers of her previous shows have grown accustomed. As usual with court shows, cases involve friendships gone bad, money disputes and property damage.
This courtroom series stars former family court judge Judy Sheindlin. Each episode finds Judge Judy presiding over real small-claims cases inside a televised courtroom. Her no-nonsense, wisecracking approach has been unsuccessfully copied by other TV court judges.
A judge hears small-claims cases in this series that served as a template for several similar courtroom series. The litigants in the case agree to drop their lawsuits and have the case heard on the show. Since the show is not a real courtroom, the decision is simply binding arbitration the litigants agree to abide by.
Faith Jenkins' life has taken her on a path from being a Louisiana beauty queen to Wall Street attorney and a tough prosecutor in New York, and now she brings her justice background to television as the star of her own court show. The no-nonsense judge presides over arbitration-based cases that are presented by defendants. As in most courts, televised or otherwise, some cases are straightforward while others have some twists to them.
Judge Glenda Hatchett presided over her self-titled courtroom show from 2000-2008. Now, she returns to the medium with "The Verdict." In the half-hour series, the Atlanta native and former juvenile-court judge rules over small-claims cases brought in front of her. Hatchett's courtroom isn't just about finding someone guilty, though. She also uses her experience dealing with young people and her tough-love approach to help send a message to out-of-control juvenile offenders to try to set them on the right track in their lives.
The venerable courtroom show takes a look at real-life divorcing couples. The soon-to-be exes tell their stories to the judge, who gives the ruling and settles all the usual -- and unusual -- divorce issues by the end of the episode. This is the third incarnation of the show titled "Divorce Court," with the first having premiered in 1957.