Two Television Judges, Both University of Miami Graduates, Find Right Balance Between Law and Entertainment


"America doesn't hate us, America loves us," Judge Marilyn Milian, AB '81, said of The People's Court, over which she presides, and similar courtroom television shows. "Why? Because it's speedy justice."

Judge Milian's comparison of televised trials to the often snail-like pace of justice in traditional courtrooms came last week at a panel event presented by the Law Alumni and Development Office that also featured Miami Law alumnus Judge Alex Ferrer.

"It's the ultimate reality show," said Judge Ferrer, JD '86, describing his own televised forum, the Judge Alex show. "The public loves the law."

Dubbed the "Lucy and Ricky of daytime television" by moderator and Fordham University law Professor Thane Rosenbaum, both judges entertained the audience with jokes and banter while discussing their legal careers and experiences.

The duo talked about the differences between TV trials and the kind of justice meted out in regular courtrooms every day, and noted television's far faster pace and more dramatic presentation. "On television we aren't reserved," said Judge Alex, who worked as a police officer and a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge before being lured to broadcasting. "We get to tell people exactly what we think about their behavior."

"We can't stay on air unless we educate and entertain," said Judge Milian, who worked as a Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge and an assistant state attorney before becoming a television judge. "We use our judicial experience to educate, and we use the backstory to entertain."

Jessica Lee, a second-year student at Miami Law, attended the panel discussion and found it beneficial. "As a law student, it's nice to speak with alumni who have already been where I am right now and are currently enjoying successful careers," she said. "They are the best people to ask for advice and learn from."

Both judges gave the same, key piece of advice – "Enjoy your career." When asked how one might go about choosing an "alternative" legal careers such as hers, Judge Milian said, "There is a certain amount of sacrifice in building a career – you have to work hard, but you have to love what you're doing."

Judge Alex agreed: "You can't put a price on waking up happy."