At MinnPost.com, columnist Max Sparber pens a tribute to a "shameful" TV pleasure: judge shows. Not just any judge shows, mind you, but those dealing with small claims, "the theater of the quotidian," as he calls it. His favorite of the bunch happens to be a former Criminal Court jurist from Memphis.
My favorite judge is Joe Brown, a sleepy-eyed fellow with a huge mustache and a startling past: He presided over James Earl Ray's last appeal for the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. It's hard to imagine what the Joe Brown of that case was like, as, just now, he runs the loosest courtroom on television. Joe Brown's show isn't so much a trial as it is a free-for-all, with litigants running their mouths about any old thing, shouting each other down, and sometimes getting into loud arguments with the judge. Judge Judy will chastise people who show up in her courtroom underdressed, but the standard uniform for Joe Brown's show seems to be a fashion I like to call "Whatever was lying on the bedroom floor when I woke up." Joe Brown doesn't care -- he sometimes seems so unconcerned that you wonder if he might have dozed off in court, and the few times he gets irritated with the behavior of litigants, it is possible to wonder if his annoyance doesn't stem from having been woken up by their screeching.Doze off in court? Judge Joe?