At the beginning of court proceeding, off-camera announcer Jerry Bishop introduces proceedings. Sheindlin then questions the parties about dates, times, locations, and other facts central to the lawsuit. Judge Sheindlin demands decorum in her court. She will sometimes chastise participants, even audience members, for showing up in inappropriate clothing, and silence audience outbursts, even if they are in response to quips she herself made. Order is maintained by her bailiff, officer Petri Hawkins-Byrd. After this process, Sheindlin renders the judgment, either by finding for the plaintiff (typically by saying "judgment for the plaintiff in the amount of ... dollars, that's all") or by dismissing the case (the award is not displayed on an on-screen graphic, which is rare among shows in the genre). When a counterclaim has been filed, it will be handled during the same show segment. However, if a case is dismissed without prejudice due to a factor such as Sheindlin's being unable to rule due to other circumstances (such as something that cannot be ruled on within the binding arbitration structure of the series), the litigants are invited to come back and resume the case later in another episode if the outside issues are resolved.
In the first two commercial breaks, a preview of the upcoming case is shown. When the show returns from the first two commercial breaks, it airs the voice-over, "Real cases! Real people! Judge Judy!" (recorded by announcer Jerry Bishop), followed by a recap of the current case. After the third commercial break, the voice-over is heard again, providing the show's telephone number and the website to submit cases. Generally each show presents two cases, but infrequently an episode will present a single long case, three shorter ones, or four even-shorter ones. At the end of a case, the plaintiff and the defendant express their feelings about the case, although sometimes this part of the program is omitted, especially after cases involving contentious or removed litigants.
Three days every other week (two weeks a month), Sheindlin and her producers tape the court show. They usually produce ten to twelve cases for each day they tape the show. A week's worth of episodes consists of approximately ten cases. Anywhere from thirty to thirty-six cases are filmed over the three days they tape per week. However, Sheindlin and her producers sometimes only tape five cases per day and two days per week. The show has fifty-two taping days a year. For each season, some 650 claims are brought to the set to be presided over by Judge Judy. This means approximately 8,450 claims have been brought to Judith Sheindlin's Hollywood set as of the end of its thirteenth season (2008–09).
For the most part, cases are taped all throughout the year except for two breaks Sheindlin and all of the members of her show have for the year. One of the two breaks includes an extra week off in December, as the show is only taped one week out of that month because of the holidays. The other break is from mid-July (only taping one week in July) and all through August. According to members of the show, the reason for this break is because people are more interested in taking vacations than in filing lawsuits around that time.
Altogether, there are 260 new episodes per season of Judge Judy. There is at least one new episode for every weekday, with the exception of a few hiatuses during most of the summer and a couple of holidays. The cases are all pre-recorded for editing purposes and will usually air one to three months after being taped. The cases are mixed up and not shown in order of when they were recorded. While the cases taped in March end the seasons, the cases taped throughout April, May, June, and July start out each season in September and last through the beginning of November. Throughout the very beginning of each season, two new Judge Judy episodes air per day. After two weeks, this is reduced to one new airing a day, followed by a repeat. There are also various other moments throughout the year where two new episodes are shown for a few weeks. This usually includes January, when the show returns from its winter hiatus. Two new episodes are also shown daily during the "sweeps" months of November, February, and May. Unlike most television shows, Judge Judy does not air its season finale in April or May. Rather, it will air its last few new episodes sporadically over the summer months, with many repeats in between, and its season finale will take place some time in June, July, or August.
Judge Judy was born on October 21, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York to Jewish and German parents Murray and Ethel Blum. Sheindlin described her father, a dentist, as "the greatest thing since sliced bread" and her mother as "a meat-and-potatoes kind of gal."
Judy has gained a reputation as a judge in both family court and on television for her overly straightforward manner of speaking with litigants as well as her frequent bluntness and no-nonsense attitude. Combining those qualities with her swift handling of many of the matters brought up throughout the course of each proceeding, Judge Judy is touted as, "A show where justice is dispensed at the speed of light."
Disbelieving many of the questionable affirmations of the parties that appear before her, lying is the main problem that the incredulous Judith Sheindlin has with both litigants and their witnesses. In fact, one of her most popular catchphrases is "Baloney!", and she is also convinced that "If something doesn't make sense, it's usually not true." If a plaintiff files an unreasonable complaint, Judge Judy may tell him or her to "get over it." Judge Judy also tends to be highly irascible generally towards both parties that appear before her, mostly in her startling explosions at litigants who speak out of turn, try to argue with her, or ramble. Sheindlin often makes such remarks as "I'm speaking!", "Liar, liar, pants on fire", "Listen to me: You are an outrageous person.", "Sir, you want to say something to me? You sure you want to say something to me?", and "You mess around with me young lady, I'll wipe the floor with you. We follow each other?" or "I being in your position would never humiliate myself in front of 10 million people" In fact, the show's tagline is Justice with an Attitude. She has explicitly stated that she sometimes sets out to cause embarrassment "in front of ten million people" to someone who has acted badly, as a way of punishing them. Though Sheindlin has a sense of humor as well, it is normally presented in combination with her gruff disposition. In fact, even for reactions to her own humor she will often say something along the lines of "Hey!" to an audience member who is being too noisy and has occasionally had particularly disruptive audience members removed.
Sheindlin has many catchphrases which are referred to as "Judyisms". Many of these Judyisms are intended to provide a lesson, such as "Beauty fades, dumb is forever." Judge Judy has stated that the main message she wants viewers to take from her show is that people must take responsibility for their actions.