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University of Miami Is Tops in Churning Out TV Judges

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Just three years ago, mega-attorney Roy Black wrote in a candid blog post: "The UM Law School is in a death spiral; we have plummeted in the law school rankings, falling to 77th, while UF is 47 and FSU is 50. This is more than a little embarrassing."

Yes, the University of Miami law school is not held in the highest of regards.

But there is no denying that UM does something really, really well compared to all other programs: turning out graduates who go on to become TV judges. Seriously, the University of Miami has more alumni who have gone on to host their own daytime courtroom show than any other school.

Sure, everyone thinks of UM alum dominating one profession, and for better or worse they think of NFL players. But a higher percentage of people who have hosted TV courtroom shows hold a UM degree than people who have played professional football in the NFL.

OK, that means only four people. But considering that the Wikipedia category for television judges has only 23 entries, we figured that about 17 percent of prominent TV judges have a UM law degree. That's still a lot.

Here's the rundown on the proud syndicate of UM's TV judges.

Judge: Marilyn Milian of The People's Court

Degree: University of Miami, BS

The People's Court is the granddaddy of televised law programs. Debuting in 1981, it has featured four judges over the years, including former NYC Mayor Ed Koch and Judge Judy's husband, Jerry, but the longest-running judge on the show is its current robed host: Marilyn Milan. Since 2001, she's held court in America's living rooms. She became the show's first female judge and America's first Hispanic judge.

Milian was born to Cuban parents in Astoria, Queens, and moved to Miami when she was 8. She attended UM for undergrad before earning a JD from Georgetown. She then spent time as an assistant state attorney in Miami-Dade before becoming a judge in Miami circuit court. Since 2001, she's breathed new life into The People's Court. In her off time, she still lives in Coral Gables.

Judge Alex Ferrer of Judge Alex

Degree: University of Miami, JD

Cuban-born Alex Ferrer spent years as a lawyer before becoming a judge for the 11th Judicial Circuit. He most famously presided over the Sun Gym gang murder case (which inspired a series of New Time stories that inspired the movie Pain & Gain, which we mention here for full-disclosure purposes, not for any sort of bragging).

Ferre began hosting Judge Alex in 2005, but earlier this year it was announced the show had been canceled after nine seasons and more than 1,300 episodes. The final installment aired this past August.

Dr. Ana María Polo of Caso Cerrado

Degree: University of Miami, JD

Ana María Polo differs from the rest on this list in two ways: One, her show, Caso Cerrado, is in Spanish; in fact, it's the most popular courtroom show based in Latin America. Two, she has never actually been a judge and does not claim to be one. But the show is like the others in that the cases are not actually held in a real courtroom and are in fact "binding arbitration" because the participants have signed a contract to abide by the host's ruling. Other than that, Caso Cerrado is basically the same.

Polo is known as Latin America's Judge Judy, and if you want to know more about her, she just happens to be featured in our annual People Issue this week.

David Young of Judge David Young

Degree: University of Miami, JD

After graduating from UM, Young served as an assistant state attorney under Janet Reno before being elected to Miami-Dade circuit court. He held that position until he landed his TV gig and became the world's first openly gay TV judge. Unfortunately, his show lasted only two seasons, but he still hosts a show on Sirius XM Radio, Justice With a Snap!

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