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Interview With Judy Sheindlin

Aired September 5, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: exclusive tough questions and straight answers with the no-nonsense mother of all TV judges. Tonight: her outspoken opinions on all sorts of current events, and on the ups and downs and secrets of her own success, on being judged herself. Judge Judy breaks her silence on some things, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Judge Judy Sheindlin is our guest tonight. She presides over the top rated Emmy-nominated court show that bears her name, simply "Judge Judy." You don't even need to express a lot of words. She is who she is. She begins her seventh season on Monday night. She's also a best-selling author, and a former judge in New York's family court.

How do you explain survival in this tough business?

JUDY SHEINDLIN, "JUDGE JUDY": I think because I started later in life, Larry. You know, by the time I...

KING: Well, a young judge wouldn't work.

SHEINDLIN: A young judge doesn't get the experience, and doesn't have a life's history, I think, that you get when you're a little bit longer in the tooth.

KING: When the idea was conceived, did you think this could last a long time? Did you like it?

SHEINDLIN: I was, sort, of hoping that they wouldn't get out the hook and pull me in after 12 episodes, and I've humiliated myself in front of my whole family and all of my friends. I really didn't anticipate being it seven years later, because I remember, Larry, you were kind enough to have me as a guest...

KING: Very early.

SHEINDLIN: ... very early on. And I remember it was just about the time when you had negotiated your last contract, and how thrilled you were. And I said, "I don't think I'm ever going to get there, but, boy, that must be a good feeling." And seven years later, there are some wonderful perks to this business.

KING: There sure are.

SHEINDLIN: There are some downsides: you know, you lose some privacy. But overall, you do have an opportunity to make a little bit of a change, and to get people to think in your job.

You do that every night. You know, you ask a provocative question. When the time comes, your hour is over, people turn it off and say, "Did you hear that question? Did you hear that answer? Were you satisfied?" It causes people to think. It's not like watching some idiocy on television. It's thought-provoking and sometimes it makes a difference in the way people think.

KING: And your show works because....

SHEINDLIN: I think it works because I honestly try to adjudicate every case that comes before me. Some of them are issues that are this big, some are this big. None of them are as big as what I used to deal with in the courtroom situation in family court, but to the people who are having their cases tried that day they're important.

And I try to look them in the eye. I try to give them the best possible decision I can based upon all the information that they're giving me. I think that I've become frustrated and I don't try to mask that with some idiocy that I see on a regular basis. And I think it's because of a certain honesty about what I do.

KING: Because you don't have to do child custody.

SHEINDLIN: Right. Whether you lose your child forever, whether your parental rights are going to be terminated, whether you're going -- whether you're 15 years old and going to jail for the next 10 years; I don't have to (inaudible) that.

KING: Is that something with the way television's going, we might see on television: custody cases televised?

SHEINDLIN: My goodness, I certainly hope not. I really hope not.

I think that -- I recall several years ago there was a case that the producers had prepared for my program. And it was a case involving a man who was bringing on his 16-year-old daughter, suing the mother of a 16-year-old boy who had impregnated her for the cost of her -- either abortion or miscarriage that she had. And this was an intelligent man. And his daughter was an A student in high school.

And I got that case and I really didn't know what to expect when I got it. But when I got finished doing the case, I went to the producers and I said, "Don't air that case." They said, "Don't be ridiculous. That's opening the season." I said, "Don't air that case."

I lost that battle, but I won the rest of the battles, because if a case gets by with someone who is not taking care of their children emotionally -- as I felt that this man was not -- I blow the case off.

KING: How long are you signed for?

SHEINDLIN: Now until 2006. KING: Oh, that's a nice stretch. So you're going to make double-figures. I mean, you're going to make over 10 years on the air, same show.

SHEINDLIN: That'll be 10 years. That'll be 10 years.

KING: Are you surprised at how well it keeps doing? I mean, daytime TV -- I don't think there are any more curves than in daytime TV. My gosh.

SHEINDLIN: I'm surprised. I'm grateful. Let's start out with being grateful.

I learned the business a little bit, which I think that an intelligent person has to do when they come into the business: learn a little bit about the business of being in business, because this is a big business. Certainly the company that produces my program knows all about the business. And I'm not comfortable with somebody knowing a lot more than I do, you know.

KING: So you've learned about affiliates.

SHEINDLIN: So I've learned about the business. I've learned about getting a little bit screwed. And I've learned about how you can take care of that sometimes. And I've learned about contracts. And I've learned about negotiations.

KING: Would you have to deal with the general manager in Buffalo? They may change times, so they want you to call, do the promos for Tulsa. Hey, that's syndicated television.

SHEINDLIN: It depends upon whether or not they're treating me well. If a station is treating me well and in a time period that I think is appropriate and doing the right thing for me and the program, I will be supportive. And if they're not, I won't.

KING: Do you like the corporate baloney?

SHEINDLIN: Do I like the corporate baloney? It's a game, Larry.

KING: I have trouble with it.

SHEINDLIN: You have trouble with it. You have trouble with the game.

KING: I'm the least 9-to-5 person I know. I hate the game. I mean, I love the work, hate the game.

SHEINDLIN: Well, I view the game as a sport. You see, the work is easy. You know, you've been doing this a very long time, so that you come to work every day and it's easy.

I couldn't do what you do. I could not.

KING: I couldn't do what you do. SHEINDLIN: I'm not a good interviewer. Sometimes I'm a good interviewee, but I'm not a good interviewer. So I couldn't do easily what you do. And in all probably, you couldn't do what I do...

KING: Could not.

SHEINDLIN: ... easily. So this is easy for us.

KING: Right.

SHEINDLIN: I need a little more of -- so the game of the business is sport, because I think that television -- corporate believes that people who they refer to as the talent are all idiots. I'll probably get -- they would love to fire me for this, but they can't fire me.

KING: What does talent think of the suits?

SHEINDLIN: They are usually removed from the suits by their agents and managers and producers and lawyers. But I'm not, because I don't have an agent and I don't have a manager, so if you want to tell me something you have to tell me yourself.

KING: But therefore, you enjoy dealing with the suits, because you could have an agent and a manager.

SHEINDLIN: Well, first of all, having an agent and a manager requires sharing, and I'm not really good at sharing. An agent gets -- I don't know -- 10 percent, the manager gets 15 percent. That's 25 percent off the top. What are they going to do for me? I mean...

KING: Take a load off you.

SHEINDLIN: I'm not looking for a Broadway show to do next. This is my show. This is my gig. I'm not looking for anything afterward. So what are they going to do for me?

KING: Our guest is the wonderful Judge Judy. She's a heck of a broad. And that's a compliment. It's not any kind of a -- I'm not putting -- I'm not anti-feminism. You are (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And, of course, Judge Judy faces trials and travails which occur when you become in the public eye.

And we'll talk about that right after this.


SHEINDLIN: Now, I'd like to hear about your counter-claim.


SHEINDLIN: Counter claim!


SHEINDLIN: You filed a counter-claim, sir. Did you tell me every single thing that happened? Duh? May I, for a moment? I want you to indulge me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have nothing...

SHEINDLIN: Mr. Campbell (ph), I want you to indulge me.

Stand up and get your hands off there.

He doesn't understand me.


SHEINDLIN: Did you go to school in this country?




SHEINDLIN: Your first name?


SHEINDLIN: Jennifer (ph), that's not an appropriate way to come to court. If you ever have to go to court again, you don't come to court showing your midriff. Do you understand? It's inappropriate.

That's much better. Again. Try it again.



KING: Take that, Jennifer (ph).

Our guest is Judge Judy Sheindlin. And she prefers Judge Judy; we all know her as that. The top rated Emmy-nominated court show. She starts her seventh season Monday night. We congratulate her on that.

All right, let's get to the stuff we have to talk about. The downside of celebrity status is tabloidville, and tabloid caught your husband with another woman.

SHEINDLIN: Well, the tabloid has a picture of my husband walking in front of another gal who used to serve me poached eggs in the morning.

KING: Well, being made a -- certainly a major thing out of it. They had -- I mean, this was a runaway story for them.

SHEINDLIN: No, just a second. It's still a runaway story. I mean, this is something that allegedly happened over a two-day period six months ago, and they're still making fodder. I think the tabloids started on me about four years ago. I think it was, maybe three years ago, I went on a vacation with my husband to Europe and they reported. And we were -- it was a vacation. And they reported that I was trying to patch up my marriage at that point.

And I went into a lingerie store. I don't know if I can mention the name, LaPearla (ph); very expensive. I'm telling you right now, I don't spend $500 for a nightgown. It's not that important to me. I was never in the store. It was totally made of folklore.

I think that last year they reported that I had a knock-down, drag-out fight with Anne Robinson, who was -- that game show -- over a suit in a dress store.

KING: "The Weakest Link."

SHEINDLIN: "The Weakest Link." I never met the woman. I'm sure she's a very nice lady. Probably if I had a fisticuff fight -- she's pretty tough; she probably would have beat me.

Then somebody wrote that I had stiffed a waiter in a restaurant -- in a French restaurant in Los Angeles when I was there. A restaurant that I never attended.

This piece of trash that has been going on is hurtful. It's hurtful to me. It's hurtful to my family. It's hurtful to my husband. We've been together 25 years.

And it comes with the territory. I think I've had to steel myself, as our family has had to steel itself. We have children. We have grandchildren. I have a 14-year-old grandson who says to me, "Nana, what is this?" You know, "Poppi, what is this?"

If you're looking for an answer, Larry, you know, you've been in the tabloids, you know what it's like and you know how unpleasant it can be. Fortunately, the mainstream press, the press that does not pay for stories as the tabloids do, whether it be $5,000 or $10,000 or $20,000. That's not journalism. When you pay for stories that's not journalism. Fortunately, the mainstream press has said, "This is not something that we would touch, that we can support and that we'll do."

I say to you -- and I'm glad you asked me the question, because it gives me an opportunity to answer you and say this. If my husband was schmucky enough to fool around with a waitress who served me poached eggs and coffee every morning for six months and served him the same way, if he was schmucky enough -- double schmucky enough to get caught -- and since you and the rest of the world out there are neither relatives of mine, I don't think I'm in your will. Am I win your will?

KING: You might be.

SHEINDLIN: But I don't think so. You got enough people in your will.

KING: Actually you are in the will. SHEINDLIN: Thank you.

KING: To Judge Judy who said, "I'm not in his will," hello, Judy.

SHEINDLIN: Hello, Judy.

Why in the world would I comment on something that is so stupid and so hurtful?

KING: You want a reason why?


KING: Because it's gotten a lot of attention. When I mentioned you were on, people wanted to know because people get curious, as you would be curious if you were reading about someone. That's natural.

Number two, sometimes the best way to put -- there's two ways to put something away. You could sue. Or you could say, "He did this; we patched it up." Or you could do it -- John Walsh, they ran the story on John Walsh seeing a lot of women. He sat at this show and he said, "I've seen a lot of women. I'm working on it. I've had a tough time with it all my life. We're trying to patch it up." One-day story. Gone.

SHEINDLIN: The problem, Larry, is I can tell you I never met Anne Robinson. I can tell you I never stiffed a waiter in a French restaurant.

KING: But that's not a big story.

SHEINDLIN: Right? I can tell you that. Can I tell you, since I was on one coast and my adorable husband is on the other, can I say to you, "Larry..."

KING: You didn't? No, you can't.


KING: But you can say what he says.

SHEINDLIN: I can't. That's not for me.

KING: Right. Of course you can't.

SHEINDLIN: All I can tell you is would he be a real idiot to risk everything that he has?

KING: But I know you pretty well, and you must have said "What is this?"


KING: Hey, come on, who wouldn't say that?

SHEINDLIN: Right, right. Absolutely right.

KING: Or else you would be a jerk.

SHEINDLIN: Absolutely right. And the next part of what I said to you was, "Since I'm not in your will, and since you and I are not related by blood, why in the world would I tell you what my husband said to me in the privacy of our home?"

Why would I do that, Larry?

KING: Here's why. Because if he didn't say. "It's all untrue..."


KING: ... by saying what you just said, you lend people to think, "Some of it's got to be true."

SHEINDLIN: And, you want to know something, Larry? It's none of their business.

KING: OK. As long as, you can take that stand.

SHEINDLIN: I can -- the only thing I can tell you is I didn't fool around. I don't have a boyfriend. That I can tell you for sure, for certain; one is enough.

KING: Which is shocking because you are very attractive.

SHEINDLIN: What? You're a sweetheart.

KING: I'm sure people have come on to you.

SHEINDLIN: You're a sweetheart.

KING: I'm sure temptation has been there.

SHEINDLIN: Yes. But they don't want to fall into the mouth. The body may be OK, the mouth they want to have nothing to do with. And I don't blame them.

KING: How badly were you hurt by the stories? Going into a French restaurant is one-minute story; it's a blip. Going into a fancy night-gown place is a (inaudible). But this is not a blip or an (inaudible).

SHEINDLIN: Larry, I'm -- you know I'm an honest gal. And I'm going to tell you that every time that I see one of those stories, I take a big gulp and I look at him and I say to him, "You're some kind of an idiot to have done anything. To have even been in a position to take a picture with somebody, walking in front of them, walking on the side of them. Anything. People watch what you do, and if you put yourself in a situation with somebody who is unstable, so that they can create embarrassment for our whole family" -- we have a family; it's not just Jerry and me.

KING: I know. And people care about you.

SHEINDLIN: Yes. It's not just Jerry and me. It's a family. We have five kids. They're all adults. We have grandchildren. Most of them are too little to understand, you know, what's happening, but one of them isn't too little to understand reading.

I would prefer that they not read that trash that you pick up in the supermarket -- I mean, because we're not talking about the New York Times or The Washington Post here, we're talking about newspapers that survive on other people's misery. And I don't intend to do anything to encourage people, hopefully who like me and who respect me, from feeling any kind of good sense that my family is going through a period of uneasiness.

And that's what the tabloids do. And I'm ...

KING: Has it made it tough for you to walk out in the street?

SHEINDLIN: No. No. Most people who know me, and most people who know my husband know that we're just normal, natural people who had...

KING: What do you mean normal, natural people?

SHEINDLIN: ... who had a wonderful gift, who had a wonderful gift later on in life; when we were 50-plus, they gave us the opportunity to enjoy certain things that we've never been able to enjoy before.

KING: You have a television show, you continue to have a television show...

SHEINDLIN: You and me have a television show, so we have...

KING: You got celebrity late...

SHEINDLIN: Late. And we enjoy...

KING: You paid some prices.

SHEINDLIN: And we enjoy it, and we have good friends that we've had for 20 and 30 and 40 and 50 years. My oldest friend is here today.

KING: I met her.


KING: OK. Fair question. How is he dealing with it?

SHEINDLIN: He's doing OK. OK, I mean he's certainly...

KING: Tough on you; it ain't easy on him.

SHEINDLIN: Yes. I suppose that it's probably at least as difficult on him as it is on me, because he understands that even by putting himself in a situation where he had his picture taken with this lady, not -- in front of a restaurant, not walking arm-in-arm, not walking hand-in-hand, but walking 20 feet apart, he put himself in a situation with somebody who was not stable, who was able to create a problem that lasted a long time. So he feels terrible.

KING: And if he had nothing to do that was wrong, it may be worse for him. I mean, he's the one being lied about, right? You're not being lied about.

SHEINDLIN: Larry, Larry, Larry, when you're in the public eye...

KING: You don't...

SHEINDLIN: ... you don't do anything. You know, I was in the public eye when I was a judge.

KING: Hold it, let me get a break.

We'll be right back with Judge Judy right after this. Don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: By the way, what exit do you get off at to go to your home?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get off at exit 42. I take the parkway to the end, and then I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) later on.

SHEINDLIN: Fine. So you actually exited the parkway at that point to follow the plaintiff?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I did not exit to follow her.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, you did. You exited to follow the plaintiff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believed she had struck my car, so I got...

SHEINDLIN: No. Mr. Rios (ph), please. I don't want you to make up any stories, sir.



KING: You're entitled, by the way.

SHEINDLIN: You're absolutely right I'm entitled.

How much was your house that you bought?

KING: None of your business. But it ain't a mansion. It's nice.

SHEINDLIN: How much was that? None of your business, right?

KING: Right.

SHEINDLIN: I have a house in Connecticut. How much did I pay for it? None of your business.

KING: I have a house in Beverly Hills. If someone printed that I got this house to keep my wife in Beverly Hills, to keep her away from southern Jersey, I would say it's not true.

SHEINDLIN: Just a second. Well, of course, that's not true.

KING: Unless it were true.

SHEINDLIN: And that's ridiculous. I mean, you don't buy a house in six weeks, you know, and move in. You buy a house of this kind takes a little bit longer than three, four weeks to take care of it. So, of course, that's ridiculous.

But that's why tabloid is tabloid, Larry. Tabloid is tabloid because they can take a fact, and the fact is that Jerry and I bought a home in Connecticut because we have an ever-expanding family, which is now going to be 18 with children and grandchildren in October, with the newest addition of a grandchild.

KING: And they all -- they come to visit.

SHEINDLIN: And they come to visit. I mean, we had a birthday there for two of the children. One turned 5 and one turned 9 on Monday. And they all came down. And we were, with a couple of hangers-on, we were 25 people. Well, 25 people, you need place to hang out. So we...

KING: And if you can afford it, you get a nice place.

SHEINDLIN: And if you can, you do. And if you do, you get something that's private. Did it cost $10 million? It's none of your business, but it didn't. And does it have 10 bathrooms? It's none of your business, but it doesn't. It has more. Does it have six bedrooms? It's none of your business, but it has more.

KING: You're a riot.

SHEINDLIN: Larry, and is he a prisoner and a captive there? It's not a bad prison, but he's not a captive. But the tabloids...


KING: ... slavery's gone in America.

SHEINDLIN: Right. The tabloids will take a story, a lovely story, that we bought a home, and it's a home that we never dreamed we would own, and they made something evil out of it.

And if I had my wish -- and I don't know if the Federal Communications Commission will say, "You can't say that on television" -- if I had my wish, I would say to the people, to the 10 million people every day who tune in and get some measure of pleasure out of my program, that this kind of bad -- I can't even call it journalism -- bad writing, evil, designed to make somebody feel unhappy about something that's really very sweet, we bought a house, we bought a house for the children, we bought a house for us, and turned it into something evil, they would do me the biggest favor if for two weeks nobody bought their paper. Just say, "Get everything straight. Before you take something that is sweet and turn it into something that is smut, think twice about what you're doing to people. And we're going to react to it."

Very much like -- you know, I was watching, I think, one of your rivals on television the other morning, and he was saying that he declared holy war on a certain soda, a certain soft drink, because they were backing a singer the subject matter of whose songs was really ghastly. Talked about shooting up with drugs, talked about vicious language. And he said, "I think it's wrong for a mainstream product to support -- mainstream to support something that is really so base." That's really all I'm saying.

KING: Economic boycott's the law of the land.

SHEINDLIN: That's it. That's it.

KING: You have the right.

SHEINDLIN: That's it. So if I have the right to say it. Because that kind of story -- and I know that that story is coming out, that I bought this property to save this marriage. Listen...

KING: That story's not out yet? I don't...

SHEINDLIN: No. It's coming out, I think, tomorrow, today, tomorrow. And it's so wrong and it's so untrue that it should be boycotted.

KING: You're a woman of the courts. What about those who say, as others have done, "Sue them"?

SHEINDLIN: Because if you sue them, then what happens is you prolong the story, Larry.

KING: So you're an automatic victim and you let them get away with it.

SHEINDLIN: But you prolong the story, Larry. That's what happens. I mean, and it's sad, but it's true.

Hopefully -- I mean, they're down to the wire. They've practically wrung this thing dry. And they know, and they know that I know, that at this point they're clutching at straws. I mean, they were really out there looking at some bizarre stuff. They were looking -- believe me, they were looking at my sexual orientation as one of their next stories.

KING: Really?

SHEINDLIN: Oh, yes. I mean, wring it out, you know, if you get something. And if I sell newspapers -- they're wiling to do anything to sell newspapers.

But as long as it's confined to the trash tabloids, I don't worry about it. I don't worry about...


SHEINDLIN: I don't worry about it, because nobody in the mainstream would print any of this garbage. However, if you sue them, then it makes it into mainstream.

KING: Yes, good point.

We'll touch some other bases now with Judge Judy, the host of "Judge Judy"; going into its seventh year Monday night, for which we congratulate here. Don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: You were out on a date with someone by the name of Angie (ph).

Angie (ph), what time did that evening end?


SHEINDLIN: Did you have anything to drink?


SHEINDLIN: When was the last time you drank milk?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This morning, for breakfast.

SHEINDLIN: Maybe with Kahlua.





SHEINDLIN: Stand still, because you're making me a little woozy.


SHEINDLIN: Does that sound logical to you, Virg (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Totally logical.

SHEINDLIN: Totally. Be very careful about your answer, sir. I want you to do me a favor. I want you to, in a moment, get me the name of the best psychiatrists that we can find here, because this man clearly is psychotic.



KING: We're back with Judge Judy, who tells it as she -- she calls them as she sees them.

You frequently urge women not to be victims, right, of dumb and cheating men?


KING: You've said those things in the past.


KING: Are you saying yourself that you would never put yourself in that position?

SHEINDLIN: You're never supposed to be a victim. My problem with women historically in the family court is that women choose to be victims over and over again. They choose to be -- they have a mate -- husband, boyfriend -- who beats them. They finally get up enough courage to get rid of one, and they replicate that behavior a second time and a third time. And that to me is just stupid.

Then you have the women who are economically victimized by men. And usually what I've seen, at least on the courtroom television program, because I saw very little of this in the family court where we didn't deal with that, young women who are -- who need to be mated so badly they will take their credit card, the key to their apartment, the second set of keys to their car, and turn it over to the first character that they meet at a bar. And once they get burned, you'd think that they'd smarten up, but they don't. They do it again.

So I say to women, "Listen, you have to train yourself from a very early age and treat yourself at a very early age that you are something special and unique. And you do that by having a good job, you do that by having a profession that you enjoy, so that you don't feel as if you need anybody else to complete your life."

KING: Do you feel a victim now? You're a victim of circumstances now.

SHEINDLIN: No, I'm not a victim. A victim of what? A victim of the tabloids? The tabloids are trash.

Am I going to allow -- did you allow, when your name was in the tabloids for a very long time -- and you've been married a couple of times yourself, right, couple -- couple, three, couple, four? And would you say to you, Larry, "When you were married to wife number one, did you cheat on her with wife number three? Or did you cheat on her for wife number" -- you wouldn't want to go into that with me. And when it was in the tabloids you never wanted to discuss it.

KING: Correct.

SHEINDLIN: Right? But did you feel that you were a victim?

KING: Victim? I don't know what I thought. I felt put upon, yes.

SHEINDLIN: You felt put upon, but you didn't feel as if...

KING: Victim? No. Not a victim.

SHEINDLIN: ... you didn't feel as if you were a victim.

I really believe that the perks of celebrity so far outweigh the...

KING: Downside.

SHEINDLIN: ... the downside; the fact that you do live your life under a microscope.

I understood that from a very early period of time when I was a family court judge, because you don't necessarily have to be a television celebrity or a movie star celebrity to have people watch what you do. Whenever you are high on that perch, whether you're a judge or a supervising judge or an administrative judge, somebody is going to look to knock you off.

KING: And also you saw probably some famous people before you.


KING: Custody cases and the like, and what they go through.

SHEINDLIN: Oh, yes. Custody case. Paternity cases.

But unfortunately it's the nature of the civilization, it's the nature of the humanity and the civilization that we deal with, people love to build you up, but once they build you up, they enjoy seeing the pain.

KING: What might you imagine life is like for Martha Stewart, where nothing proven, nothing charged?

SHEINDLIN: Unhappy. Unhappy. And she's -- and I happened to see this -- the interview that you had with her, and it was a painful interview that you had with her. I don't know if you -- I'm sure you recall it, but I watched it and she was painful. She was so guarded. Why come on a program like this?

KING: But this was before all the trouble...

SHEINDLIN: And be so...

KING: ... she was dealing with past deals.

SHEINDLIN: ... past deals. And be so guarded and uncomfortable. Better off not to do it at all. Because, certainly Martha Stewart made less money than any of the guys that... KING: I know.

SHEINDLIN: ... that lined their pockets with hundreds of millions of dollars. I mean we're talking about a lady who made, maybe, $200,000 from the whole magilla that we're talking about.

And yet in one of our newspapers here there's a little square every day in the business section that says "Martha Watch," was it a bad day or a good day? Or a bad day or a good day?

KING: Really?

SHEINDLIN: And I looked at it and I was commenting to somebody and I said, "Do you know how unfair that is?"

I don't know whether this is a nice lady or not. I don't know whether she's getting Leona Helmsleyed or not. You know, Leona Helmsley went to jail because nobody liked her. Certainly people have done far worse. She was an old lady. There was no reason for it, but she was unpopular.

KING: Right.

SHEINDLIN: And I think that because Martha Stewart has made certain enemies, maybe because of her style, and then again you have the scenario where she made it, here was a lady who made it, and all of a sudden you have that clay foot that you can attach, and you can say, "She may have made it, but she's no better. We made her a star, and we can drag her down into a hole. Let's see how fast we can do it."

Because the truth of the matter is, she made pittance compared to what the rest of them made. Her name is the only one you remember.

KING: Well stated.

Judge Judy is our guest. Her seventh year starts Monday night, we'll be right back. Monday afternoon, we'll be right back.


SHEINDLIN: You say he wanted you to move in with him?


SHEINDLIN: You had a lease?


SHEINDLIN: He said, "Break it"? Let me see if I can put this together, make the story myself, because, you know, it's late and I have other things to do today.


SHEINDLIN: He said, "Break the lease," and you said to him... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't want to.

SHEINDLIN: And he said to you...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Move in with me, it'll be better."

SHEINDLIN: And you said to him, "It will cost me..."


SHEINDLIN: And you said "I don't have..."


SHEINDLIN: And he said to you...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That he would pay it.

SHEINDLIN: Quite, please, I can't hear her testifying.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next morning when I went over to the house to pick the kids up there's empty beer containers and a keg of beer on the living room floor.

SHEINDLIN: What does that have to do with her stealing car keys and going for a joy-ride in somebody's car? Nobody's alleging that anybody was drunk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't say that.

SHEINDLIN: Your daughter didn't say that she was drunk, or the other girl was drunk. What does one thing have to do with another?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She wasn't driving the vehicle.

SHEINDLIN: She stole the keys. She stole the keys. What word would you like me to explain to you?



KING: Is the playing field level now for women? Getting there?

SHEINDLIN: Depends upon the industry, I'd assume, Larry.

KING: Television? Certainly. Getting there, almost there. SHEINDLIN: Television as far as on-air. Oh, I think that the playing field is pretty level on-air. Corporate? No. I don't think that the playing field is, I don't know of many women who have that, what do they call it? A parachute? You know, that golden parachute...

KING: Escape clause.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, that these guys have, you know?

KING: Business fails, give them, say, $82 million.

SHEINDLIN: $82 million so that they're comfortable. Women don't have that. And I have, unfortunately, seen, in the short time that I've been in the business, that it is the women who are very talented, who really understand the business -- who really understand the business of the business, and yet when something has to be merged or something has to be cut, the guys are protected, the guys protect the guys, but they don't protect the women.

KING: Let's touch some other bases. A judge told me once that the toughest cases he ever presided over were custody cases, because there's no training for it. A lot of it is gut. Right?

SHEINDLIN: That's true. But you are supposed to bring with you to the bench, especially the bench in the family court, a life's experience.

And it was my experience in the latter part of my tenure on the family court that when there was a real contest, I had my work cut out for me. Because 30 years ago women stayed home with their children, men went to work; they were the hunters. So there was never an issue of custody. Women got custody, men went to work, they paid support, case is easy.

But in the past couple of decades we've had a metamorphosis in the family. Men work, women work, they share jobs, they share time with the children. They are equally available to their children. They take care of them the same way. So that when there is a divorce, and unfortunately that's 50 percent of the marriages end in divorce, men say, "Listen, why should we be relegated to every other weekend? We participated with this child from the beginning. We want custody of the children." And sometimes the fathers are better custodians, so that there is a real issue. So it became -- for me in the last 10 years I practiced in the family court -- far more difficult to determine who was a better parent.

KING: Do you often talk to the child?

SHEINDLIN: Depends upon how old the child is.

KING: Is there a drawing line for an age? If they're above 9, is that a good age?

SHEINDLIN: Nine, 10, 11 and 12, I think that they -- well, certainly by the age of 12 they can tell you who they prefer to live with, and very often that's dispositive. Because if you tell a 15- year-old, for instance, "You're going to live with your mother," and they don't get along with their mother, all they're going to do is hop on a bus and go to their father. What are you going to do, drag them out in chains? He can't put them anywhere.

So that you have to give them a voice. Certainly when you're dealing with young children it is the responsibility of the family court judge to be their voice.

KING: What do you make of all these child cases going around America, missing children, grabbed children, killed children?

SHEINDLIN: I think you have to find the perpetrators and -- we talked about this the last time I was here. You put them all on a plane. You take them over the Grand Canyon with some seeds. You dump them in a parachute. And you say, "If you can survive here, survive here, but you're not going to ever be in a position again to hurt a child."

And to me, if you've hurt a child in the past, five years, 10 years, 15 years is not sufficient time for them to be incarcerated, because if you have the kind of psyche that enables you to take and sexually abuse a 5-year-old, you're never going to get better.

KING: That's a fact.

SHEINDLIN: You're never going to get better. If you wouldn't trust them taking care of your little baby, your two sons, then why should we entrust them with anybody's sons, living as a neighbor? Fifteen years later, 20 years later, 25 years later, I wouldn't trust them.

Would you trust them with your children?


SHEINDLIN: No. If you wouldn't trust them with your children and if you can't incarcerate them forever -- as far as I'm concerned you can incarcerate them forever - but if the law doesn't permit you to do that, the Grand Canyon is a big place. Let me go, see if they can grow seeds.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Judge Judy.

Tomorrow night, John Edwards. He talks to dead people.

Don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: The bail receipt, they're so smart. They list the denominations of the bills: eight $100s, one $50, then there is one $10 and seven $20s. So we got to get it straight. You withdrew the $850.

Now, where did you get the extra cash from? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I work at a bar on the weekends and that was my tip money from the week before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how do you have tip money when...

SHEINDLIN: Don't speak to her. Liar, liar pants on fire. Don't speak to her.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their dog was really fast. And he came over and bit down on my hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They parade outside and have their parties with their dogs outside, but we can't bring our dog outside.

SHEINDLIN: Your dog is dangerous.


SHEINDLIN: What kind of dog did you get this time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of dog?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another pit bull.


KING: You have some great cases.

Differentiating -- we have a few minutes left -- between what's sick and what's evil. Anthony Vachs, the author and attorney, wrote that, "Sickness is a condition, evil is a behavior. And when we excuse pedophiles on grounds that they are sick, we allow them to prey on kids more." You would agree with that.

SHEINDLIN: I would agree with it and I would applaud it.

KING: But it seems sick.

SHEINDLIN: And my answer to Andrew -- and I don't think that...

KING: No, but Andrew is...

SHEINDLIN: Andrew is a real child advocate. And Andrew would not -- and he would not disagree with me if I said you take them into parachutes, you know, by the ankles and send them off to the Grand Canyon.

KING: Then what is sick? SHEINDLIN: I don't think it's a sickness that causes somebody to engage in aberrant behavior. Whether you have a serotonin rush in your brain or you need a certain kind of adrenaline flow in order to be happy, you make choices. If you know that your illness causes you not just to sit in your apartment and vegetate, but to go out there and prey on children -- prey on anyone, prey on old people; why are we just concentrating on children? Prey on 85-year-old ladies, prey on 30-year-old pregnant women who -- we just had one that was brutalized getting her pocketbook stolen on the east side, you know, just brutalized -- with a big belly -- and going after her pocketbook -- that person isn't sick. The person is evil. The behavior is evil, the person is evil. They are taking what they want and putting it above what -- and putting it above what society says, "You can't do this. This is wrong. This is evil behavior. This is not only criminal."

We're not talking about tax evasion, we're talking about pain, we're talking about murder, we're talking about defiling somebody. That kind of evil behavior we have sanctioned in this country, in our justice system, because we've said, "The people are sick." And to that I have always said, "Who gives a rat's ass if they're sick?"

If they hurt my children, my grandchildren, your children, your mother, your grandmother, they don't deserve to breathe the same air that I do. They have to be removed from society.

And if a pedophile -- if the lawyer for a pedophile -- as one said before my husband, "You cannot blame him; he's been convicted of pedophilia on five different occasions and he's been incarcerated." Five different occasions! What is he still out for? Why is he still in a position to hurt other children? To me, it's mind boggling that as a civilized society we permit that to happen.

KING: What do you make of priests?

SHEINDLIN: What do I make of them? I'm sure most priests are wonderful.

KING: I mean the priests who continue to do this?

SHEINDLIN: Oh, well, Andrew...

KING: Without much punishment.

SHEINDLIN: ... Andrew Vachs, in the same piece, offered an opinion with regard to the priest-penitent privilege and said he believes that there should not be a privilege when it came to pedophilia. I think he's absolutely right.

I don't think -- why does a priest -- first of all, a priest telling another priest what they did, as far as I'm concerned, is not protected. The only they're protecting is the church, because the church had a certain sanctity. People give a lot of money to the church. They weren't going to give a lot of money to, you know, guys who were dipping their winky where they shouldn't. But these guys have destroyed hundreds and hundreds of children, and they've done so with the church winking an eye, because they said, "We have a certain institution to protect, and we will protect that institution at all costs. We don't mind paying off, but we will not acknowledge it."

Even that I can understand, Larry, but I cannot understand the church saying that we're going to leave these people in a situation where they can still prey upon children. Which they did.

KING: Judy, you're extraordinary. It's always good.

SHEINDLIN: Thank you.

KING: And congratulations.

SHEINDLIN: Thank you.

KING: Seven years. And be happy.

SHEINDLIN: Thank you.

KING: Be happy. More than 16 bathrooms? More than 16...


KING: Tomorrow night, John Edward. He talks to those who were once here and they not and we still. An old Mel Brooks line.

Saturday night, where were you on 9/11? We'll ask a lot of people that question.

Sunday night, a live edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND. Dan Rather is my co-host, with victims and heroes.

Thank you very much for joining us. Aaron Brown is next with "NEWSNIGHT" here on CNN in New York.

Thanks for joining us. Good night.




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