The Best TV Judges, Ranked

As a freelance writer, I’m one of the lucky few — aside from housewives, stay-at-home parents and lazy basement dwellers who refuse to get a job — to actually view daytime television programs. As such — aside from “Maury,” “Jerry Springer,” “Steve Wilkos” and other daytime talk shows like “The View” (which is just horrible, by the way) — I tend to watch a lot of court shows. It is for this reason that I’ve personally deemed myself qualified to rank the best TV judges over the past few years, and this is exactly what I’ve done.

10, 9, 8. Judge Tanya Acker, Judge Patricia DiMango and Judge Larry Bakman (“Hot Bench”)

I’d be lying if I ever said I saw this show — which says something considering I’ll watch just about anything. These three ranked in the last three positions because, since there’s three of them presiding over each case, I assume none of them have the presence (or perhaps even the authority) to carry a show on their own.

7. Judge Mablean Ephriam (“Justice With Judge Mablean”)

Mayblean is the former arbiter of “Divorce Court” and has just recently returned to television in 2013 with her new show “Justice with Judge Mablean.” And to this I ask: why? She’s awful. She promotes her shitty book whenever she can, and puts on this transparent sassy attitude reminiscent of Tyler Perry’s Madea, a character she just so happens to star alongside in some Tyler Perry films. Hopefully this crap gets canceled. Soon.

Photo: Robert Daly (Getty)

6. Judge Lynn Toler (“Divorce Court”)

Judge Lynn Toler became the arbiter of the longest running television court program “Divorce Court” in 2006, a show that, if you’ve ever seen it, is completely over the top and ridiculous. Toler doesn’t add much in terms of entertainment value, but serves more as the voice of reason between couples who are absolutely ridiculous and probably just Craigslist actors.

5. Judge Joe Brown (“Judge Joe Brown”)

Judge Joe Brown is the grumpy uncle of the courtroom. Perhaps this was because the set of his courtroom was beside Judge Judy’s and her crotchety attitude rubbed off. Surprisingly, Brown’s show was the second most popular of the bunch, trailing behind his bitch of a neighbor. Brown earned roughly $20 million a year until his show was canceled in 2013. Coincidentally, Brown just recently spent some time in prison for contempt of court, though his sentence was under a week.

4. Judge Alex Ferrer (“Judge Alex”)

He may look like a Ken doll, but Judge Alex, a former cop, is actually a formidable judge and a pretty nice dude — which was probably his greatest pitfall, since his show was canceled after a decade. Unlike the other judges on this list, Alex rarely lost his temper, which, evidently, proved to be popular among viewers, and is the only reason why the next judge is so filthy rich.

Photo: Genaro Diaz Melendrez / EyeEm (Getty)

3. Judge Judith Sheindlin (“Judge Judy”)

I’m sure some would argue that Judy should be number one, but I personally think she’s overstayed her welcome. You can only profit from being an evil bitch for so long, and boy has she profited. In 2013, it was reported that Sheindlin was the highest-paid TV star, earning $47 million annually, which, since Sheindlin only works 52 days a year, translates to over $900,000 per work day. Just take your money, your orthopedics and go home, Judy. You’ve got enough damn money.

2. Judge Marilyn Milian (“The People’s Court”)

Marilyn Milian is the sexiest of all TV judges, but I don’t want to base her ranking solely on her appearance, because Milian is a cougar in the courtroom as well (see what I did there, “cougar”?). As part of “The People’s Court,” Milian is accompanied by “TMZ” executive producer Harvey Levin, who asks uneducated street dwellers what they believe Milian’s ruling should be. When sufficiently mad, Milian’s Latin side comes out in the most appealing way. Her MILF status is just an added bonus, really.

1. Judge Greg Mathis (“Judge Mathis”)

Mathis is, hands down, the greatest judge on TV. He resides in the top spot because he doesn’t take things so seriously (which, he shouldn’t; these are all small-claims lawsuits) and jokes with litigants, while working to to curb public misperception of the black community, because he himself was no stranger to trouble with the law in his youth. Perhaps Mathis’ greatest asset in his television program is his bailiff, Doyle, who often interjects with inappropriate comments, to which Mathis and he riff on each other like true buddies would. The result is funny as hell, especially when they poke fun at litigants.


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