Judy Sheindlin was born on October 21, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish and German parents Murray and Ethel Blum. She attended American University in Washington, D.C., and after her graduation in 1963, went on to New York Law School where she received her degree.
Judge Sheindlin's career in family court began in 1972 prosecuting juvenile delinquency cases for the state of New York. By 1982, Sheindlin's growing reputation as a sharp, no-nonsense lawyer inspired Mayor Ed Koch to appoint her to a seat as a judge in family court. Within four years she was promoted to the position of Supervising Judge in Manhattan.
With over 20,000 cases under her belt, Judge Sheindlin became known as one of New York's toughest judges. On the bench, her message was clear—take responsibility for yourself, your actions and the children you’ve brought into the world… or else. Credited with pioneering an “open court policy,” Judge Sheindlin allowed the public and the media to view her day-to-day proceedings, which was not a common practice at the time.
As one of the most outspoken judges in the country, Judge Sheindlin was the subject of a Los Angeles Times article in 1993 and appeared on a segment of the popular newsmagazine show 60 Minutes. After her appearance, she was approached about the possibility of presiding over real cases with real consequences in a television courtroom. JUDGE JUDY became a reality, premiering in national syndication on September 16, 1996.
That same year, Judge Sheindlin published her first book, Don’t Pee On My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining. Her second book, Beauty Fades, Dumb is Forever, was a national best seller taking an in-depth look at women’s issues. Branching out to help parents interact with their children, Judge Sheindlin published two children’s books Win or Lose By How You Choose and Judge Judy Sheindlin’s You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover. Both books use engaging illustrations accompanied by thought-provoking questions that encourage parents to discuss answers and evaluate consequences with their children. Sheindlin’s third book for adults, Keep It Simple, Stupid: You’re Smarter Than You Look, shares her wisdom and opinions on solving everyday family squabbles.
Over the past 25 seasons, the popularity of JUDGE JUDY has transcended daytime television to become part of America’s pop culture. As a result, she has appeared on everything from Saturday Night Live to Nightline and been interviewed by most major national publications. In 2004, she was named by VH1 as on of the “200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons.” Two years later, she received a prestigious Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She also received the Gracie Allen Tribute Award from American Women in Radio and Television for her significant contributions to the broadcasting industry. In 2007, Judge Sheindlin was named one of the top celebrities in Forbes’ "Celebrity 100" List.
With What Would Judy Say®?, she has created a forum to exchange ideas on various social issues.
Judge Sheindlin is married to Judge Jerry Sheindlin, a former Justice of the Supreme Court of New York. The second marriage for both, they have five children: Gregory, Jamie, Jonathan, Adam and Nicole, as well as 13 grandchildren.