1 9 8 1 – 1 9 9 3 (USA)
30 minute episodes
Retired judge Joseph Wapner decided actual small-claims court cases in a California studio.
To participate on the show, all parties had to sign a waiver dismissing their case in the relevant court and agree to the Judge’s ruling as a form of binding arbitration without appeal.
After each case was decided, the parties were interviewed by Doug Llewelyn to obtain their reactions. Bailiff Rusty Burrell kept order in the courtroom.
The daily 30-minute shows were syndicated to more than 150 stations around the US and dozens of stations overseas. According to a 1991 survey, 54% of Americans knew that Judge Wapner ran The People’s Court, but only 9% knew that Justice William Rehnquist headed the Supreme Court!
The series was revised for syndication in 1997 with former New York Mayor Ed Koch as the judge. The new series was videotaped in New York and moved to a 60-minute format. Subsequent judges included Jerry Sheindlin (husband of judge Judith Sheindlin of Judge Judy fame) and former Florida prosecutor Marilyn Milian.
Rusty the bailiff died in 2002.
Judge Joseph A. Wapner