(The cases are real, the people are real, the decisions are final—except for this one.)
Enter the courtroom of Judge Judy, where the case is introduced as number 3,267,421 of James versus James.
Judge: I have read your claim Mr. James and your counterclaim Mrs. James. I have never heard of a more ridiculous case in my life and I hope to get this over in a hurry. Here is what I read: You, Mr. James, are suing your wife, Mrs. James for $2,000 for the use and alleged damage to your I-pad. I will get to the counterclaim later but you, Mrs. James, are countersuing Mr. James for $2,000 for alleged harassment and medical bills.
Mrs. James: Yes, he continues to…
Judge: I am not talking to you. Are you trying to talk over me?
Mrs. James: No, ma’am.
Judge: Because if you are, you will not succeed. I may be an old woman but I have been on the bench for 25 years. I know every trick. Do you think that you know more than me? Besides, It is now almost lunch time and I get very nasty about now. Do we understand each other?
Mrs. James: Yes, ma’am.
Judge: How long have you been married?
Mrs. James: 58 years and counting.
Judge: I’m not interested in your counting, but after 58 years you must have learned to share some things.
Judge: Mr. James—look at me, not at the ceiling—tell me exactly what happened.
Mr. James: Well—uh—she—uh asked me if she could look at my I-pad.
Judge: So what? When did this take place?
Mr. James: Uh, well…
Judge: Uh is not an answer.
Mr. James: It was like on January 20, 2015 at 10 o’clock in the morning. I know because I was getting a cup of coffee and I was getting her one too.
Judge: I don’t care about her coffee. Just tell me what happened.
Mr. James: Well, I handed her the I-pad and she didn’t give it back to me for 3 hours.
Judge: You handed her the I-pad. She didn’t pull it out of your hands or steal it, did she?
Mr. James: No, uh, but I wanted it back.
Judge: That’s too bad Mr. James but—and look at me—what was the problem? This is not a criminal case. And then what happened? Tell me in your own words and look at me.
Mr. James: She got fingerprints all over the screen and ran the battery down so that I had to recharge it.
Judge: So what? Do you have pictures of the I-pad with the damages you claim?
Mr. James: I had them but I forgot them.
Judge: Ha, ha, ha. You forgot them. When you come to court you bring evidence—do you understand?
Mr. James: Yes, your honor.
Judge: I’m dismissing your claim; now let’s get to the equally ridiculous story that Mrs. James has. What are you countersuing for?
Mrs. James: He has harassed me continuously, causing me worry, mental pain, and raising the level of my blood sugar and blood pressure.
Judge: Do you have records to prove this?
Mrs. James: Yes, here they are.
Judge (examining records): These records are for all of 2014. Where are the numbers for January 20th, 2015?
Mrs. James: I don’t have them but I think they would be elevated above those I gave you.
Judge: I don’t care what you think. I need evidence. Forget the claim about the records, now what about the medical bills. Do you have them?
Mrs. James: Yes, here is a bill for $348 that the insurance wouldn’t pay for when he pulled the I-pad out of my hand and I slipped and banged my big toe, causing this ingrown toenail and the infection that I now have.
Judge: I don’t want to see your ingrown toenail or infection. And how do I know you banged your toe when he pulled the I-pad from you? You could have been wandering around in the dark and done it.
Mrs. James: But I always use a flashlight in the dark and he was pulling it real hard and…
Judge: That is enough. Counterclaim dismissed. And let me give a word of advice to the both of you, particularly you Mr. James: you have been married to Mrs. James for 58 years. When is her birthday?
Mr. James: May 19th.
Judge: Before then buy her a new I-pad of her own. Understand?
Mr. James: Yes your honor.
Judge: Case dismissed. Thank you.
Outside the courtroom:
Mrs. James: I thought that he would forget about the I-pad and the damages and just worry a bit about my toe.
Mr. James: I am worried about her toe—I don’t like the looks of it at all.
Mrs. James: Well, live and learn. I will never ask him for his I-pad again—it has to be voluntary.
Mr. James: She can have it any time she wants—we will work out a protocol on time and learn to live with just one I-pad.
Karl Franklin [related to and sympathetic with the plaintiff]