Judge Mathis
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Judge Mathis

Judge Mathis
GenreCourt show
Presented byJudge Greg Mathis
Music byBrian Wayy Roy Shakked
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons22
No. of episodes3,000+
Production locationsWMAQ-TV NBC Tower
Chicago, Illinois
Camera setupMultiple
Running time42 minutes
Production companies
  • & Syndicated Productions
  • Telepictures Productions
  • Black Pearl Entertainment
    (seasons 1-4)
DistributorWarner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution
Original networkSyndication
Picture format480i 4:3 (SDTV)
480i 16:9 (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original releaseSeptember 13, 1999 (1999-09-13) -
External links
Production website

Judge Mathis is an American syndicated arbitration-based reality court show presided over by Judge Greg Mathis, a black-culture motivational speaker and retired judge of Michigan's 36th District Court.[1][2]

The courtroom series premiered on Monday, September 13, 1999. The syndicated broadcast features Judge Mathis adjudicating small claims disputes and is produced by Telepictures Productions and Syndicated Productions, while distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.[3]

Judge Mathis is filmed in front of a studio audience at the NBC Tower in Chicago, but includes cases and litigants from other U.S. jurisdictions.[4]

The show debuted its 22nd season on September 7, 2020.

Show format

Each episode runs for one hour and typically consists of 4 cases.[2] The show is broadcast five days a week in every U.S. state, as well as Canada through Omni Television.[5][6]

The cases on Judge Mathis are classified as tort-law civil disputes with a maximum $5,000 claim, a typical amount for small claims court. The producers of the show select the cases. To acquire cases, the show solicits real-life litigants with pending disputes or individuals with potential disputes.

If litigants agree to be on the show, they are paid a talent fee ranging from $150 to $300, and they receive travel accommodations. Mathis has prior knowledge of the cases. In all cases, litigants give their prospective case managers all evidence in advance. Any outside legal case pending must be dismissed by both parties.

Typically, Mathis's producers only seek cases that they deem juicy and sensational enough for television. Occasionally, Mathis leaves the courtroom to deliberate and then returns with his verdict.[7] Upon final judgment, he may briefly explain the legal principle guiding his verdict, especially if his ruling is based on a particular state's law. Reportedly, Mathis' rulings conform to the laws of the state where the case was originally filed.[8] In recent years, the show has begun to conduct paternity testing in disputes about child custody, and drug testing in applicable cases. Mathis often offers or compels drug treatment and family counseling for parties.

Integrating Mathis's life story

As a child and teenage delinquent, Mathis found himself embroiled in frequent legal woes. He was a member of a street gang in Detroit, and he was arrested and sentenced to jail for illegally carrying a firearm when he was 17 years old.[9]

It has been stated that the key to Greg Mathis's success as a judge and arbiter is that he's relatable. As a unique role model and personality, he stands out from other court show arbiters by virtue of his rags-to-riches ability to overcome his personal-life struggles and demons. So concerned is the arbiter with helping steer troubled youth in the right direction, the show's second season featured a documentary on Greg Mathis's life:

Mathis was brought up in one of the worst housing projects in Detroit.[10] During his youth, he was involved with gangs, dropped out of school and spent time behind bars. Growing up as a gang member and heroin dealer in the mean streets of Detroit, Michigan, Mathis had done plenty of time in juvenile detention centers before age 17. All this changed when a judge gave him an ultimatum--either get a G.E.D. or go to jail. At the same time, Mathis found out his mother was dying of cancer. Rushing to her side, he promised her he'd turn his life around, which he did: he attended college; passed the bar and earned a law degree; became the youngest judge in Michigan's history and then served as a Superior Court Judge for Michigan's 36th District.[2]

Mathis has frequently used his courtroom series to highlight his troubled-youth-turned-success-story as a way of motivating and inspiring his audience (especially youth audience) that there's no adversity that they can't pick themselves up from. It is from his background where Mathis derives much of his courtroom formula. For example, his show's opening theme was formerly a brief documentary of his powerful life story. As another example, he takes a liking to litigants who have seen the error of their ways and have made efforts to improve and better their lives.[11] Mathis also makes efforts to promote treatment for individuals struggling with drugs, using his syndicated show as a platform to send opioid addicts to rehab. In addition, he makes efforts to bring families together through paternity testing.[12]

Mathis believes rehabilitation is within almost everyone's grasp if they just receive the proper guidance, which is what he tries to provide. In addition to upholding the rule of law in court, he makes a point of emphasizing that education is key to a brighter future. The continued success of his courtroom series has led to the growth of a new generation of younger court show viewers. People understand that it's his concern for their futures that motivates many of his decisions.[2]

The judge's courtroom approach is advertised as "a refreshing mix of social commentary, humor and humanity."[2]

Veteran court show status and honors

By the 2014-15 television season, Judge Mathis made it to its 16th season, making Mathis the longest-serving African American court show arbitrator, surpassing Judge Joe Brown, whose program lasted 15 seasons. Moreover, Mathis holds the record for second-longest serving court show arbitrator ever, just behind Judge Judy Sheindlin, the presiding judge of the court show Judge Judy and creator of Hot Bench'

Judge Mathis entered its milestone 20th season on Monday, September 3, 2018, and currently just completed production on season 22.[12] The success of Judge Mathis is particularly noteworthy in that, generally speaking, court show programming has a very limited shelf life. The programs in this genre are lucky to make it past a few seasons. Judge Mathis is the fourth longest-running courtroom series behind Judge Judy, The People's Court, and Divorce Court. Though both Divorce Court and The People's Court have suffered cancellation(s) and shifting arbitrators, Judge Mathis has not. Consequently, of the court shows with only one production life, Judge Mathis is the second longest-running (second only to Judge Judy by three seasons).

Of the long list of court shows, the only programs still in production in the genre originating from the 1990s or prior are Divorce Court (1957), The People's Court (1981), and Judge Mathis (1999). Of those three, only Judge Mathis has not suffered temporary cancellations in the midst of its series run. Also of the three, Mathis is the only one to have hosted his program for the entirety of its run. This also makes Greg Mathis the second longest serving court show arbitrator ever, only behind Judy Sheindlin.

20th season anniversary

Judge Mathis is one of the longest running, successful programs in the court show genre. As of the 2018-19 television season, it's one of the two courtroom programs to have existed for two decades under one arbitrator.


Judge Greg Mathis's "inspirational and positive messages to young people" won the court show a PRISM Commendation in May 2002. The court show also won an NAACP Image Award in 2004 and a Daytime Emmy Award in 2018, just ahead of making it to its 20th season debut.[2]

Mathis was crowned the winner of the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Legal/Courtroom Program in April 2018. In his acceptance speech for his first-ever Emmy win, he credited his diverse staff of females and minorities:

We are very proud and honored to have been awarded this Emmy. And after 20 years, I'm so happy for my staff in particular and the diversity that they represent. The majority of our staff are females and minorities. And in this day of the Me Too movement, I think this shows that if you hire more women and have a more diverse staff, you'll win.[13]

Judge Mathis's adjudicating approach

Mathis typically begins proceedings by having litigants expound on their side of the dispute so as to gain insight into the matter. Cases on Judge Mathis tend to go deeper and to more revealing places than those of most other court shows. He calls attention to peculiarities or juicy details exposed throughout the course of the proceedings as a means of making the cases more stimulating to viewers. Furthermore, Mathis doesn't hesitate to tackle any social issues that emerge during the proceedings, tying his social justice perspectives to the cases.[11]

While hearing the testimonies, Mathis takes on a relaxed, attentive, understanding and open-minded nature. Rarely missing an opportunity to jest or poke fun, Mathis is given to fun, humor, good-natured ridicule and gibes, often rousing his audience to uproarious amusement. He sometimes cuts the tension-even tension he himself has fostered-with wisecracks or taunting remarks. Mathis has bantered directly at audience members on occasion, also resulting in audience amusement.[14] He uses a rather high-pitched voice as part of stultifying litigants and suggesting that they've not recognized the obvious.[11][15]

Combined with his teasing and comedic tendencies on the bench,[14] Mathis is known for his street smart, urban expressions and stern side as well.

COVID-19 precautionary moves for season 22

On Monday, September 7, 2020, Judge Mathis entered its 22nd season with various new COVID-19 precautionary measures in place, such as a significantly depopulated courtroom audience, all members of the audience widely distanced from one another. In addition, all audience members wear face shields.[16]

Bailiffs and supporting roles

On September 20, 1999 during the first season of the "Judge Mathis" show, Leslie (Pallotta) Merrill, a former news anchor for WPGH Pittsburgh became the show's court reporter. Her role was to interview the litigants after Judge Mathis rendered his decision on each case and passed judgment.[17] She left the show at the start of season 2.[]

The first bailiff on Judge Mathis, Brendan Anthony Moran, died on 19 December 2002 after he fell to his death from the balcony of his 24th floor Chicago condo. His death was ruled a suicide, although Moran's family think differently.[18]

Since then, Judge Mathis has had two bailiffs.

Crossovers and other media personalities

  • Aspiring singers and rappers who appear on the show may even be granted a moment to showcase their talents from the lectern.
  • In a 2005 episode, Mathis goes toe-to-toe with performance artist Max Geller about whether Geller is technically a father for donating to a Feed the Children campaign.[19]
  • In a September 2014 Rickey Smiley Morning Show interview, Judge Mathis expressed praise towards his courtroom rivals. In the interview, he was asked what three other court show judges he'd most enjoy sharing a meal with. For his first choice, he answered "Are you kidding? It would be Judge Judy at the head of the table. Oh, my goodness, that Judge Judy is something else." His second choice was Judge Marilyn Milian, and third Judge Mills Lane.[20]
  • On October 29, 2015, during a 17th season episode of Judge Mathis, The People's Court arbitrator and Warner Bros. legend Judge Marilyn Milian took Judge Greg Mathis by surprise by interrupting one of his courtroom proceedings. In the episode, she entered through the door to the left of the judging bench that Judge Mathis uses to enter and exit the courtroom and stated, "Hey, hey, hey! Excuse me! Let a real judge do this." Following that, she exchanged greetings and hugs with Judge Mathis, who responded, "That's right. She taught me all I know, the best judge on The People's Court. I'm going to get some consultation from her in the back." In response, Judge Milian stated, "The realest [sic] judge I know."[21]
  • In other media, the Judge Mathis show appeared in an episode of The Steve Harvey Show. Romeo, Bullethead, and Lydia sued Steve and Regina over a damaged computer that Steve confiscated from them during class. Since Judge Mathis had appeared at the school earlier in the week, the kids took their case to the Judge Mathis show (and won).
  • In a January 2018 interview, Mathis suggested that he tried emulating Judge Judy early on and received input that his gender and race made this approach short-lived.
In speaking on the early days of his courtroom series, Mathis stated:
"I tried to be like Judge Judy. And she was mean all the time. And then ultimately [my] producers said, 'Well, no, an older white woman can talk to white folks like that, but a young black man can't.' So I learned that lesson early on. White folks love to see black people sing and dance. So instead I decided to just be myself."
Judge Mathis also took care to note of his high opinion of Judge Judy. He stated that he did not deserve Sheindlin's salary, that her salary is owed to her because of her impressive ratings and that she even "ran Oprah off television" with ratings that surpassed those of Oprah's own show.[22]

International versions

Country/language Local title Host Channel Date aired/premiered
 Egypt judge mathis say n'c productions charisma group Kelmet Hak Kelmet Haq Kelmat Heq Kelmat Hek Kalimat Haq ? ? ? ? ? Khaled El Sawy MBC Masr April 5, 2015


  1. ^ "The Raw Word". 30 July 2018. Retrieved 2018.[non-primary source needed]
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Judge Mathis Bio". Judgemathistv.warnerbros.com. 11 September 2006. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 2013.
  3. ^ Judge Mathis website. Online at: "About the Show" Archived 5 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 8 May 2007
  4. ^ Swartz, Tracy. "Judge Mathis recalls highlights from his Chicago-filmed TV show ahead of Season 20 premiere". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2021.
  5. ^ Judge Mathis website. Online at: "When its on". Retrieved 5 March 2011
  6. ^ Omni Television. Ontario "Judge Mathis" Accessed 8 May 2007
  7. ^ Fearn-Banks, Kathleen (4 August 2009). The A to Z of African-American Television. ISBN 9780810863484. Retrieved 2013.
  8. ^ Judge Mathis interview. Online at: "Interview with the Judge Mathis" Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 5 March 2011
  9. ^ http://radaronline.com/exclusives/2014/07/greg-mathis-judge-mathis-gang-gun-arrest-detroit/
  10. ^ Gun-Toting Judge Greg Mathis Was Arrested As A Teenager - Showbiz Spy Archived 8 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ a b c Erickson, Hal (21 October 2009). Encyclopedia of Television Law Shows: Factual and Fictional Series about ... ISBN 9780786454525. Retrieved 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Judge Mathis recalls highlights from his Chicago-filmed TV show ahead of Season 20 premiere". 30 August 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  13. ^ "Judge Mathis Credits Diverse Staff For Emmy Win". Globalnews.ca. 30 April 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  14. ^ a b Roger M. Grace (2 October 2003). "Seven Courtroom Shows Appear on TV's Fall Docket". Metnews.com. Retrieved 2013.
  15. ^ [1][dead link]
  16. ^ Swartz, Tracy. "Movies and TV shows can film again in Illinois -- with limits -- after shutdown for coronavirus". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2021.
  17. ^ "Tuned In: Jeannie, Jenny and judges among changes in daytime and late-night TV". old.post-gazette.com. 26 August 1999. Retrieved 2020.
  18. ^ PERNELL WATSON Daily Press (26 July 2003). "Bailiff On 'Mathis' Killed in Fall - Daily Press". Articles.dailypress.com. Retrieved 2013.
  19. ^ Shapiro, Lila (8 October 2015). "Leader Of 'Renoir Sucks' Movement Challenges Critic To A Duel To The Death". HuffPost. Retrieved 2019.
  20. ^ "Judge Mathis On Why Judge Joe Brown Isn't One Of His Favorite TV Judges [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]". 11 September 2014. Retrieved 2015.
  21. ^ [2]
  22. ^ "Judge Mathis Tried to Be Mean Like Judge Judy, But Couldn't ... Because He's Black". Blast. Retrieved 2018.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes