How Much Do ‘Judge Judy’ Litigants Get Paid? Probably More Than You Think

Abi Travis - Author

May 20 2020, Updated 6:01 p.m. ET

how much is the appearance fee on judge judy
Source: Getty Images

Even though Judge Judy will be leaving the air shortly, it’s safe to say that the reality court show — along with the feisty judge at its center — will always be absolutely iconic. There’s a lot to like about Judge Judy Sheindlin, although it’s probably easier to like her if you aren’t staring down the barrel of one of her acerbic rulings.

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They say that crime doesn’t pay, but in the case of the litigants who appear on the show, that’s not exactly true. Since Judge Judy is a TV show, the people who appear on it get paid to do so. Both the plaintiff and the defendant receive an appearance fee for their time. But is it actually worth it to get on the show? How much is the appearance fee on Judge Judy? Here’s what we know.

How much is the appearance fee on ‘Judge Judy’?

The amount of money people receive for appearing on Judge Judy varies, probably depending on how much time they actually spend on screen or other factors. Some litigants have reported receiving $500, while others have received either $250 or even as low as $100. If Judge Judy Sheindlin issues a verdict of a specific dollar amount, the plaintiff receives that amount in addition to their appearance fee.

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how much is the appearance fee on judge judy litigants
Source: Getty Images

Also, while the judgments are real, the defendants don’t actually have to pay the awards. Actually, the show pays the plaintiff whatever dollar amount Judge Judy awards — though there’s a limit of $5,000. If you’re ever going to be on Judge Judy, you want to be a plaintiff, but being the defendant isn’t so bad from a financial standpoint (as long as you can handle Judge Judy being mad at you). Even the spectators get paid, although they’re only making minimum wage.

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The appearance fee isn’t the only perk for ‘Judge Judy’ litigants.

In addition to receiving an appearance fee (and a monetary award if Judge Judy rules in their favor), people on the show also receive a $35 per diem for every day they’re in town for taping, plus the show covers their airfare and hotel expenses for their stay. Generally, litigants stay in Hollywood, Calif. for two or three days and don’t have to worry about paying for anything the entire time. Not bad for a few days of “work,” right?

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Judge Judy has a pretty sweet deal, too.

In order to film episodes of the show, Judge Judy flies to California via private jet every other Monday from her home in Naples, Fla. — unless it's summer, in which case she flies to California from another home in Greenwich, Conn. She then hears cases on Tuesdays and Wednesdays before flying back home. Every once in a while, she stays for Thursdays, too, but for the most part, she only has to work five days out of every month.

We think Judge Judy has certainly provided enough quality entertainment to earn her an easy work week. She probably could have taken the last few years off and still earned it, to be honest. The fact that the show is so easy and relatively cheap to make is the reason why we have so many episodes to enjoy, so we really wouldn’t change a thing.

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