The Verdict on Judge Jeanine Pirro

When Bedford resident Glenn Close accepted her award during the (mostly lame) Emmy Awards on Sunday, she noted that television is finally starting to realize that strong women can anchor great shows. I couldn’t help but think of Judge Jeanine Pirro, whose new daytime court show debuted on Monday. We know how she operated as Westchester D.A., but how does she work on the D.V.R?Before watching Judge Jeanine Pirro, I wondered how she would shape her small-screen persona. Would she be a forceful spitfire like Judge Judy, or a more benevolent figure like Judge Koch?Actually, I was quite impressed at the way she split the difference between the two: assertive and no-nonsense, sure, but without seeming as, well, crazy as Judge Judy. She did the job a television judge is supposed to do: cry foul on the nonsense that some of the people try to pass by her, sometimes with a cry of “Baloney!” or “Hogwash!” To one witness, she asked, “Do you have children?” When the witness answered in the negative, she replied with a curt “Good.”At times, of course, her Westchester D.A. roots were showing. In two of the three cases she heard on her premiere episode, she moved beyond the small-claims judgment and pushed for prosecution. In the first case—two cousins who moved in together, got into a dispute, and were suing each other for lost property, damages, and rent—it came out that both the plaintiff and the defendant were victims of rape by the same man. “I was a D.A. for thirty years,” she told the girls. “I ran an office in a major metropolitan area,”—hey, that’s us!—”I dealt with rape and child abuse as my areas of expertise.” After sorting out the bit with the rent and damages, a title card informed the audience that Judge Jeanine Pirro was pushing to reopen the girls’ rape investigation and prosecute the perp. In the last case, a 14-year-old boy terrorized his next-door neighbor, splashing bleach on her, breaking the window of her apartment, and trashing her car. The neighbor sued for the money to have her clothes, window, and car fixed, but Pirro didn’t think that went far enough. She pushed the plaintiff to file criminal charges and, when the teen started making threats, called the Chicago P.D. then and there. “We’re not going to have victims be afraid of criminals because they are seeking justice!” Jeanine snapped. It seems you can take the judge out of the D.A.’s office, but you can’t get the D.A. out of the judge.Even without catching references to her Westchester D.A. experience, you can definitely recognize the TV Jeanine Pirro as the big personality we remember. A bright-pink shirt pops from beneath her judge’s robe. You couldn’t see the heels, but you knew they were there. Her set, like her house in Harrison, was a bit much: there was a black-and-white swirl of tiling on the floor that formed a geometric flower shape, marble walls (no word if she hand-picked the marble herself), a wooden bench and, behind her, an official seal that was illuminated with bright blue lighting. One defendant, who kept a ring after an engagement was broken, claimed she kept it because it was a birthday present (silver, with the September birthstone on it) and not an engagement ring. Jeanine took one look at the ring and, without the aid of a jeweler’s loop, said, “This is not silver, this is white gold. Those are sapphires. And that’s a diamond. And this is an engagement ring.” And then she put it on her finger. Yep, that’s the Jeanine Pirro we remember.Then again, if I were home sick instead of here in the office, I’d probably be watching it now.

©2008 Warner Bros Ent. Inc. All rights reserved.

Judge Jeanine Pirro approaches the bench.

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