Judge Judy Takes Control, Even as a Witness

Blue light special in court . . . Look out, Jack . . . Clearing the docket, big time.

She rules her TV courtroom with a sharp mind and even sharper tongue. Judge Judy takes no guff. And so it was a few months ago at her debut as a witness in a civil case.

Her Honor, also known as Judith Scheindlin, was called to give a deposition in a civil dispute involving the producers who “discovered” her. Kaye Switzer and Sandi Spreckman are alleging that Judge Judy was swiped out from under them.

Usually, lawyers control a deposition. But not Judge Judy’s deposition. She walked into the conference room at a Century City law office, eyed the wall-to-wall lawyers and told them what was what.

“I’d like to make a brief statement,” she said. “This is under oath,” she continued, in effect swearing herself in before launching into her testimony.


One of the lawyers protested meekly: “Well, this is a little unorthodox.”

Judge Judy responded: “I don’t want to give you a lot of yes or no answers because that’s useless to you. That just prolongs it. . . . I’m just here to tell the truth.”

Judge Judy is a key witness for the women, who are represented by lawyer Alan Sigel. A trial is set for February.

NEENER NEENER: Thank heavens for the 1st Amendment. It means you have a right to call your legal adversary a “creepazoid attorney,” “the Kmart Johnnie Cochran” and even “a loser wannabe lawyer.” Is this a great country or what?

This inalienable right has been upheld by the 2nd District Court of Appeal. The ruling came in a case involving a producer of the 1997 film “Natural Born Killers” and a lawyer, Thomas M. Ferlato.

Ferlato claimed that producer Jane Hamsher libeled him in her book “Killer Instinct: How Two Young Producers Took on Hollywood and Made the Most Controversial Film of the Decade.” But the court noted that the author never impugned the lawyer’s courtroom abilities or his character. Instead, her description of Ferlato was in keeping with the book’s “flip, earthy and colorful language” and its “exaggerated, irreverent and attention-gathering style.”

And so it is that we exercise our 1st Amendment rights in our own flip and earthy way: That movie was a one-star waste.

BUMPER CARS: Actor Jack Nicholson has been sued by two people who blame him for a July 8 fender bender on Mulholland Drive. Attila Henry Hegedus and Olga Kharitonovich seek unspecified damages. They name Nicholson and Sally Boyle, owner of the Mercedes-Benz that Nicholson was driving, as defendants.

No comment from Nicholson’s handlers. The accident occurred as he was turning onto Mulholland from Coldwater Canyon Boulevard around midnight, according to police.

A passenger in each car was treated for minor injuries. Nobody got a ticket. Nobody got arrested. Now the plaintiffs claim they’ve incurred medical expenses, lost wages and diminished earning capacity. Bet this one settles.

CRASHING BORE: It took just two years and buckets of money, but the Oscars finally are free of attention-seeking comedian Scott Kerman and his gate-crashing shtick.

Kerman, author of “No Ticket! No Problem!” was jailed, in his tuxedo, the day before the 1997 ceremony for trespassing. He had sent out a news release promising to crash the Academy Awards. He sued the academy and Pinkerton’s security for false arrest and harassment. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, meanwhile, went to court and got a restraining order against him.

Now, all Kerman’s legal claims in Los Angeles Superior Court have been dismissed. Oscar can rest easy. Peace is at hand.

“It’s nice to have it behind us, but it cost more than $100,000 in legal fees to shake this guy off, and frankly, we’d have preferred to spend the money on film restoration,” said Bruce Davis, the academy’s executive director.

Kerman couldn’t be located for comment.

SETTLE, PEOPLE: The following cases have fallen off our docket due to legal settlements. As usual, the terms remain Hollywood confidential:

Jennifer O’Neill, former actress, cover girl and plaintiff, has settled with her former lawyers over their allegedly dumping her in the middle of a breach of contract case against the late clothing designer Paolo Gucci.

A suit filed on behalf of the teen stars of the film “Apt Pupil” also went to Settlementland. The teens alleged that they were tricked into performing a nude shower scene.

And, last but not least, filmmaker David Stutman has settled his suit against Leonardo DiCaprio. Stutman claimed that DiCaprio used his star power to thwart the release of a low budget film starring the heartthrob pre-"Titanic.” The 1996 film will be distributed outside the United States, attorneys said.