Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Tribunal Justice’ On Amazon Freevee, A ‘Hot Bench’ Clone Where 3 Judges Decide Cases

We find it quite funny that Judge Judy Sheindlin, under her contract with Amazon, is able to pretty much Xerox the syndicated formats that made her rich and famous. First there was Judy Justicewhich is more or less a clone of Judge JudyNow there’s Tribunal Justice, which is more or less the same as Hot Bench, a syndicated court show she also produces, except for a set and one of the three judges.


Opening Shot: Bailiff Patri Hawkins Byrd advises the three judges on Tribunal Justice, Tanya Acker, Patricia DiMango and Adam Levy about the case, Newsome v. Harden.

The Gist: In Tribunal Justice not one but three judges decide on cases. Acker, an experienced civil litigator and Judge Pro Tem in Los Angeles, is reuniting with DiMango, a former New York State Supreme Court Justice; the two of them worked on Sheindlin’s syndicated program Hot Bench. Levy is a former District Attorney in New York’s Putnam County. Byrd is also a Hot Bench veteran; the other bailiff is Cassandra Britt.

Two cases are presented in the first three episodes; we decided to concentrate on the case of Erin Newsome vs. Jayla Harden, originally filed in Houston. Newsome was suing Harden for $10,000, for throwing away all of her stuff at the end of the lease on their apartment, without giving her a chance to retrieve the items. Harden is countersuing Newsome for back rent owed, the costs of hauling away her stuff, and emotional distress, for a total of $7000.

Each judge gets to ask a series of questions. Acker discusses an incident where Harden started driving her car while Newsome’s arm was stuck in the window, for which Harden apologized via text. DiMango concentrates on the incident which caused Harden to file a restraining order against Newsome, and why Newsome couldn’t arrange someone to come get her property before the lease was up. She also tries to figure out just how much back rent Newsome owes Harden. And Levy tries to straighten out Newsome’s priors, whether there were outstanding warrants on her, and why she didn’t talk to the police in person.

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Like we mentioned above, Tribunal Justice is a clone of Hot Bench, which still runs in syndication.

Our Take: The idea behind Tribunal Justice is that you get three judges with three different areas of expertise and experience, coming at the defendant and plaintiff from different angles, then we see them deliberate and come up with a decision. All three judges operate under the Sheindlin school of tough love, shushing people who launch into irrelevant testimony or talk over them, and lecturing both defendant and plaintiff about their crummy attitudes towards the bench and each other.

Acker and DiMango have had more practice with this than Levy does; we love how Acker called the two litigants “queens” then immediately took it back. That’s an experienced TV judge right there. Levy does get a few good shots in, but he mostly sounds more like the prosecutor he was than a judge that’s used to people trying to BS them in court.

What we’re always amazed at is the seemingly endless supply of crazy cases and litigants who seem to have no problem with talking back to the people on the bench, even though they hold that person’s fate in their hands. Maybe they can be that chatty because they know that any monetary awards are paid by the producers, not them.

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