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The Huseby Journal

Joseph Wapner, who launched court TV phenomenon, dies

Judge Joseph A. Wapner of "The People's Court"

Many of us have served the legal profession in many different ways, but few have had the broad impact of a judge we pay tribute to today: the late Judge Joseph A. Wapner.

The star of the innovative television show “The People’s Court” died this week at age 97. (The New York Times)

There was almost nothing negative written about him in the dozens of stories reviewed for this post. In fact, he’s given credit for all kinds of impacts on the court system including improving the public’s image of judges.

During his run, the show was also credited with increasing the number of small claims cases. Whether that’s a good thing or not might depend on your perspective. With the advent of "Judge Judy," "Judge Mathis," and other similarly formatted TV, there's now a Emmy courtroom category.

The World War II veteran was called “stern” and disciplined,” but there was something about his (TV) courtroom demeanor that appealed to the public.

And his evenhanded hearings of cases in which mere pocket change was at stake let millions of viewers know that no matter how seemingly insignificant their legal disputes, they, too, were entitled to their day in court.

He had a distinguished legal career that preceded his television fame, dating back to his appointment to a judgeship in Los Angeles municipal court in 1959. That was followed by his election as presiding judge of Los Angeles' Superior Court system.

Want to know more? Here are 14 facts about Wapner and “The People’s Court.” (Mental Floss)

Tell us in the comments section: What are your memories of Judge Wapner?

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Scalia's affirmative action comment gets national attention, mixed reaction

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia “drew muted gasps in the courtroom when he made a remark about black students during arguments about affirmative action.” (The New York Times) During the arguments, Scalia alluded to a theory called “mismatch” saying, “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to — to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less — a slower-track school where they do well.” (The Washington Post)

The reaction to Scalia’s comments has been mixed. While some commentators took him to task, and some even have gone so far as to call him racist, there are others who don’t think he went too far, including liberal University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, who said:

"The outrage and condemnation sparked by this comment is completely unwarranted. Justice Scalia's comment, which asked about the merits of an argument frequently made against affirmative action, and which was made specifically in briefs before the Supreme Court in this very case, was perfectly appropriate. As is often the case, Justice Scalia might have helped himself by framing his comment in a more sensitive manner." (The Huffington Post)

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She is a court reporter -- AND she plays one on TV: 'House of Cards' to be specific

What do you do when you’re not working as a court reporter?

Cindy Sebo, a freelance reporter from Bowie, Maryland, who works with us at Huseby, spends her out-of-work time pretending to be a court reporter.

She recently filmed a scene as a court reporter in the U.S. House of a Representatives on Neflix’s “House of Cards.” She’s transcribing Frank Underwood’s (Kevin Spacey) State of the Union speech. The agency that cast her was interested in her experience working at the real U.S. House of Representatives.

When Spacey got to the set, Sebo said, “We did the first take, and he was spot-on perfection. I was thinking, ‘Wow, we are already done in one take?’ Boy, that goes to show you how little I knew about filming. We ended up doing about 35 takes.”

Read more about Sebo’s experiences, plus those of another reporter acting the part on ABC’s “Nashville.” (JCR)

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