It’s fall, and you know what that means: another new courtroom reality show that follows in the footsteps of the timeless classic, “The People’s Court.” On Sept. 10, our very own Judge David Young will preside from the bench on daytime TV. (Locally, his show will be aired at 1 p.m. on WBFS; it is also running nationally).
When he was a local judge in Miami-Dade County, Young heard several high profile cases, including the one where he sentenced two America West pilots on charges of drunk flying. Once, Young also sentenced an 81-year-old woman to prison for 31 years – the same number of years she had been on the lam from a murder charge. The Miami New Times recently quoted Young in the story “117 Dead,” regarding inmate medical care at the county’s jails.
Watching Young’s show should be entertaining. He promises to sing show tunes, wave his arms around a lot and rely on his sidekick, Bailiff Tawya Young (no relation) while dispensing justice. Young is no stuffy robed dude: he collects penguins (more than 1,000) is a member of Weight Watchers (he attends weekly meetings) and loves Batman (hence the penguins). He’s also one of the few openly gay men on the bench: he and his partner, Miami Judge Scott Bernstein, have been together 12 years.
Riptide caught up with Young via e-mail and asked him a few questions.
New Times: How is your TV show different than the other reality courtroom shows?
YOUNG: My show will not consist of only yelling at litigants. I will call people down for their bad behavior, but viewers will learn something about life from watching my show— through humor, through singing show tunes and whatever mechanism I use to teach. You don’t learn anything from yelling. Instead it just gets people’s blood pressure up and nothing gets accomplished. We will speak on a rational level on my show and get things accomplished. I don’t think any other show on air does that.
NT: What is the funniest thing you've seen on the bench (either while taping the show or when you were serving in Miami Dade)?
YOUNG: While I was serving on the bench in Miami I had a woman in front of me whose case was dismissed by state because she completed her program. She had some heart problems, so I wished her well told her to listen to doctor and exercise. She wanted to show me her scar, but I told her it wasn’t necessary. She insisted on showing it to me and I continued to tell her it wasn’t necessary. All of a sudden she flashed me! It was the first time in 47 years a woman has ever flashed me.
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NT: What's the biggest issue facing the Miami Dade judicial system and how do you think that issue can be solved?
YOUNG: I think the biggest issue facing the judicial system would be the lack of cohesiveness in the courts. The court system has an inadequate physical plan. Buildings are archaic, out of date, and as a result the amount of work that needs to get done is not getting done. The city needs to get serious about building a judicial compound that will adequately hold all the aspects of the court. Right now there is no security for judges, no area for children to hang out while waiting for their parents’ case, in criminal court there is no place for court personnel, no terrific law library, no place for lawyers to congregate and do research, there aren’t chambers for hearings because they are too small, and there aren’t enough court rooms. There needs to be more emphasis on updating the entire court system in Miami Dade Florida. We have such dedicated men and women who are judges and lawyers and it’s a shame we don’t have proper facilities.
NT: Are you still living in Miami or have you relocated for the show? If you haven't relocated , do you want to, or will Miami always be your home?
YOUNG: I have not relocated to New York. I am a native Miamian. I have no plans to move elsewhere. Miami’s for me. --Tamara Lush