Judith Sheindlin
Judith Sheindlin ()

Judith Sheindlin, presiding judge on the daytime television series “Judge Judy,” has filed a lawsuit against a Connecticut law firm, claiming the firm has unlawfully used her image in the firm’s television and internet advertising.

Sheindlin has accused The Haymond Law Firm P.C., and attorney John Haymond, who focuses on personal injury work and whose ads are readily visible on billboards around Connecticut, with violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, and for appropriation of likeness and appropriation of the right of publicity under Connecticut state law.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in New Haven on Sheindlin’s behalf by Wiggin and Dana lawyers James Glasser and Kevin Smith, also makes a federal law claim of false endorsement.

In a prepared statement distributed by a New York-based public relations firm, Scheindlin said: “Over my 50-year career, first as a family court prosecutor, then as a family court judge, and most recently as the presiding judge on ‘Judge Judy,’ I have never filed a lawsuit against anyone. However, the unauthorized use of my name, image and reputation by Mr. John Haymond is so outrageous that I feel it requires this action. Without my consent, Mr. Haymond has taken my name and image and used it in television and internet advertisements to falsely suggest that I have endorsed his legal services. Mr. Haymond is a lawyer and should know better.”
She added: “Everyone is entitled to their own reputation and the right to maintain it in their own way. As a former judge with more than a decade of experience on the bench, I have chosen for all of these years on television to maintain my reputation by not endorsing other people’s products and services, despite many offers to do so, because I believe that it is inconsistent with my judicial career. Without seeking my authorization or consent, Mr. Haymond has taken that choice away from me for his own personal gain. I cannot tolerate that, and intend to hold Mr. Haymond financially responsible for his actions.”

According to the complaint, the lawsuit claims that despite being notified in 2013 by Sheindlin’s producers that the advertisements weren’t permitted, Haymond continued to run ads on television and on the Internet.

The television advertisements, which were broadcast on local television stations in Connecticut and Massachussetts, showed clips of Sheindlin taken from the “Judge Judy,” alternated with images of Haymond and his daughters, the lawsuit says.
The advertisements were “edited to imply that Sheindlin actually is interacting with Mr. Haymond and his daughters,” the complaint states, “though in reality, she has never met him.”

A phone message left with Haymond’s Hartford office seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Scheindlin said any money she collects will benefit a charitable group, called the Her Honor Mentoring Program, which provides scholarships for women.
While Scheindlin may not have personally filed a lawsuit against anyone, the company that produces her show — called Big Ticket Television — filed a lawsuit last fall against someone who was allegedly and improperly placing episodes of the courtroom reality show on YouTube. The lawsuit was reported on the website TMZ, which stated that ‘Judge Judy’ is the most popular show on daytime TV, with more than 9 million viewers.