Judge Judy Sheindlin's Career in Photos

The Emmy Award-winning, beloved TV judge has made quite a name for herself — and isn't slowing down any time soon

01 of 17

Approach the Bench

Judge Judy Sheindlin
Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty

Before she was a household name settling disputes in front of millions of viewers, Brooklyn native Judy Sheindlin was a trailblazer. The only woman in her class at the Washington College of Law, she went on to become a corporate lawyer and then family courts prosecutor before she was appointed a criminal court judge by New York City Mayor Ed Koch in 1982.

02 of 17

Who Am I to Judge?

Judge Judy Sheindlin
Bob Riha, Jr./Getty

In 1993, following a profile in The Los Angeles Times, Sheindlin was featured on 60 Minutes. The recognition led to new opportunities, so she retired from family court after 25 years.

In 1996, she published her first of seven books, Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining.

03 of 17

That's Judge Judy to You

judge judy
Judge Judy. Sonja Flemming/CBS/Getty

The same year, Sheindlin scored her own show that we all have come to know and love, Judge Judy. Sheindlin's quick wit and biting remarks made the show the No. 1 first-run syndicated program on TV. It was also the highest-rated court program each season it was on the air.

Sheindlin told PEOPLE in October 2021, "I was hoping we would have a three- or four-year run and that my husband and I would be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment one block off the beach in Florida as a retirement place. We were civil servants. We had five kids that were all educated, most went to graduate school. We tried to see to it they weren't burdened with a lot of debt."

04 of 17

All Rise!

Judge Judy Sheindlin
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The show became the highest-rated courtroom program in the United States, averaging roughly 9 million viewers a day.

Eventually, Sheindlin's annual earnings grew to a reported $47 million, making her one of the highest-paid people on TV.

05 of 17

The Whole Suit and Nothing But the Suit

Judge Judy Sheindlin
Brad Barket /Getty

Her judgement skills clearly serve her well in other areas of her life. For example, she is amazing at choosing colorful suits! We submit into evidence this photo of her in a bright orange set in 2007.

06 of 17

The Right to Remain Fashionable

Judge Judy Sheindlin
Raymond Hall/FilmMagic

And this pink ensemble that makes you want to scream, "I find the defendant guilty of dressing to kill." I rest my case!

07 of 17

Swept Off Her Feet

Judge Judy Sheindlin
NBCUniversal via Getty

In April 1999, Jay Leno gave Judge Judy a lift when she visited The Tonight Show.

08 of 17

A PEOPLE Person

Judge Judy Sheindlin
NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/getty

You have the right to remain ... on the cover of PEOPLE! In October 1999, Judge Judy showed off her cover (which included an iconic photo of her in a red one-piece bathing suit) on The Tonight Show. She graces the cover of PEOPLE again this week.

09 of 17

Setting Records

Judge Judy Sheindlin
Frazer Harrison/Getty

In 2014, the judge was sentenced to a lifetime of being honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was given her Hollywood Star.

The following year, Sheindlin earned a place in the Guinness World Records books when she became the longest-serving judge or arbiter in courtroom-themed programming history.

10 of 17

Famous Friends

Judge Judy Sheindlin

The popular judge has had plenty of famous pals through the years. At right, Sheindlin holds hands with Barbara Walters at the 2008 Daytime Emmy Awards.

11 of 17

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Judge Judy Sheindlin
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty

In 2009, she got a hug from Cyndi Lauper at the Komen New York City Race For the Cure.

12 of 17

Good Pals

Judge Judy Sheindlin
Jason Merritt/Getty

In January 2019, Samuel L. Jackson told Ellen DeGeneres that friend Sheindlin was the life of the party at his 70th birthday celebration.

13 of 17

Friends in High Places

Judge Judy Sheindlin
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty

But perhaps her most impressive acquaintance is none other than former President Barack Obama, whom she greeted like this in 2014 while Jackson looked on.

14 of 17

Making Money Moves

Judge Judy Sheindlin
SMXRF/Star Max/GC Images

This is the face of a woman who, in 2017, sold Judge Judy's 5,200-episode library, as well as rights to future episodes of the syndicated program, to CBS for an estimated $100 million.

In March 2020, she announced that the show would be ending its 25-year run.

15 of 17

A Lifetime of Achievement

Judge Judy
Gregg DeGuire/Getty

In May of that year, Sheindlin presided over the 46th Daytime Emmy Awards, where she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Amy Poehler. In its history, Judge Judy was recognized with three Daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding legal/courtroom program, in 2013, 2016 and 2017.

16 of 17

Not Slowing Down Anytime Soon

Judge Judy Sheindlin
David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty.

Shortly after Judge Judy ended, Sheindlin began production on a new project for Amazon's IMDb TV, Judy Justice.

In May 2021, Sheindlin told The Hollywood Reporter that she's "not tired" at all — and doesn't see a reason to slow down.

"I don't play golf or tennis. I have no desire to learn how to play mahjong, chess or checkers. I know what I like to do," she said. "Why, at my stage in life, would I try to find something else when I already know what I like?"

That's proof enough for us! Court dismissed.

17 of 17

Making Moves

judge judy
Jeffery Salter/Redux

In October 2021 Sheindlin — who is worth an estimated $460 million, according to Forbes — told PEOPLE of her switch to IMDb TV, "We left on top, which is perfect. Amazon had the confidence in me to say, 'Let's do it in streaming. Let's let you do your thing in a fresh version with new people.' And I'm excited!"

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