“Hot Bench” is not your average courtroom drama. The show created by Judge Judy Sheindlin is the only three-judge bench on television and is now in its fourth season. For the first time this season, viewers will be able to follow Judges Patricia DiMango, Tanya Acker and Michael Corriero into the chambers where they will give the audience an inside look at how they make their decisions.
The three judges chatted with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith about the season of the show, their legal careers and why “Hot Bench”
DJ Sixsmith: How has “Hot Bench” changed your lives and careers?
Patricia DiMango: That’s a really good question. For me, it’s changed me because I’ve had to accept that I’m no longer the sole decider in the cases I’m doing. I’ve had to be open minded about listening to the perspectives of other jurors who are brilliant and have experience and are fair. I think it has helped me be a little bit more open about different positions before I jump in there with my decision.
Tanya Acker: The show has changed me a lot. I’m the only one of the three of us, who was not a judge before the show. I’m an advocate and a lawyer. When I had this opportunity, it really gave me a chance to try to see the process from the other side and to really dig into both sides. Lawyers have to do that if they want to represent a client effectively. But, it’s another thing entirely to have to take a step back and review the case with the objectivity of a fair decision maker. It’s been a tremendous experience for me.
Michael Corriero: I had to learn how to share decision making. For 28 years, I was on the bench and made all of my own decisions. I’ve had to learn how to share. The chemistry has been just terrific. I’m so blessed to be working with these two bright, intellectual, beautiful women.
DS: There will be cameras following you guys into the chambers this season as you make your decisions. What do you find most interesting about the deliberation process?
TA: What I like about it frankly is that it is something audiences don’t get to see. It’s something lawyers don’t get to normally see, if you work for a judge like I did in real life, you don’t get to see judges in conference. It offers the audience a look at something most people are unaware of.
PD: I think people love to go where they are not allowed. If it’s taboo or off limits, people like to go there. When we offer people the opportunity to be in this place, they embrace it. They love it because they know what we are thinking and where we are going. I think that’s a tremendous aspect to the public.
MC: I think the presence of the cameras really cause us to raise our game because we have to be focused and we have to explain our thinking in a way that the audience will understand. It’s fascinating and it keeps us sharp.
DS: Why is Hot Bench different from other court room shows on television?
PD: Like I say all the time, there are three of us! It’s the three of us that make it different. It’s the way the three of us work together. It’s the way that we are the same and the way that we are different that really makes our show special.
MC: There’s nobody like the three of us.
TA: We’re part of the Judge Judy TV family now. We’ve got a solid team of folks behind us, real veterans. We are ushered into this process by the best in the business. We have a lot going for us.
DS: There are some interesting and wild cases on the show this year. What makes a case interesting?
PD: Mostly I think it’s the litigants and something a little off beat. When you have characters in front of you and interesting people who are passionate about the stances they take, you feed off of that as a judge. You feed off their issues and their humor. I think they create what makes the most interesting show on television.
MC: I agree. We have a case coming up involving a litigant who is extremely animated and he went on a nature walk to find an animal that would protect his spirit. He saw a barn owl and he actually became the barn owl. He wanted the barn owl tattooed on his leg and went to a tattoo parlor, but it didn’t turn out the way he wanted. We have to decide when a barn owl is actually a barn owl.
TA: That case involved looking at that man’s thigh in the courtroom! Sometimes, the cases take a turn.
DS: The Palm Restaurant recently added your caricatures to a group of illustrations featuring many celebrities. What did you guys think when you saw your faces on the wall?
PD: We have arrived!
MC: We made it!
Check your local listings for the next episode of “Hot Bench.”