I’ve watched many TV court shows over the years, but I must say that Street Court really stands out due to its uniqueness. What makes this court show so different than all the others is that the proceedings do not take place within an actual courtroom, but rather outside at the scene of the dispute. The cases are handled in environments related to the cases themselves, such as on the street that an incident in question took place or inside a litigant’s home. Judge Mazz goes to them, rather than the other way around.
In one case, court proceedings took place inside the plaintiff and defendant’s home. A brother was suing his little sister because he alleged she lost his $400 I-Pod Touch. If memory serves me correct, the case was dismissed due to lack of sufficient evidence. During this case, there was no audience from what I could see. On the screen were the judge, bailiff, camera crew, and of course the litigants. It appears that we the viewers are the audience. There are no live spectators (except for maybe the occasional few on the street who stop and watch). This in my opinion makes the proceedings more intimate and personal. For this particular case, and other cases on this show that I have watched, there were no random people snickering and laughing during the proceedings like I have seen from other court television shows. I think this allows the viewer to take the case as well as the litigants a bit more seriously. An interesting thing I also noticed when watching this show, is that often times when the case is taken outside in public, there is caution tape surrounding the perimeter of the area they are all standing in. This may be done to remind the litigants (as well as the viewers) that although the proceedings are not being done in an actual courtroom, it is still a place where justice is being served. The yellow tape could also be there to keep spectators from coming into the space and crowding the cameras.
In another case, the proceedings took place at what appeared to be a park. In this case, the owner of a pit-bull was being sued because his dog attacked a little 6 pound yorkie. The plaintiff was suing the owner for the cost of the vet bills, which came to over $3,000. The defendant claimed his dog’s collar was faulty and that he wasn’t responsible due to the defective collar. In my opinion, this was a very weak excuse and made no sense. Isn’t it his responsibility to make sure his dog’s collar works properly in the first place? Judge Mazz didn’t seem to buy that argument either. He ended up ruling in favor of the plaintiff, but only for $2,000 rather than the full amount she was asking for because her dog had not been on a leash prior to the incident. The defendant was more at fault because he did not have proper control of his dog either, and I imagine because his dog was bigger and way more vicious than the little yorkie. Pit-bulls and dogs with that kind of temperament should always be properly restrained when around other dogs and strangers under any circumstances. The owner even knew his dog had some violent tendencies. An update was given at the end of this case about the pit-bull. Apparently, the defendant’s dog ended up attacking yet another dog sometime after the case had ended, and sadly as a result the pit-bull was put down.
Even though the plaintiff had won the case, surprisingly, the defendant did not have to cough up the $2,000. According to an article I read online from the New York Times, the show actually pays out the winning judgment, not the one being sued. I have never heard of this being done before, except for maybe in Moral Court (if memory serves correct). Although I think that is great for the plaintiff because it guarantees he or she will get the money that is owed to him or her, I have to wonder if it’s really justice when the person responsible does not have to pay. It also makes me wonder why the defendant argues his or her case in the first place if he or she will ultimately not have to be held financially liable.
This court show is definitely worth watching if you like these kinds of shows. (Click here for the local listings of this show). As I said before, this one is unlike any other court shows that I know of, because the judge goes to the plaintiffs, rather than the other way around. I should point out however, that he is not really an actual judge (which is why he doesn’t wear a robe on the show) but he had worked as a lawyer for over 20 years. Judge Mazz (short for Mazzariello) is professional yet has this “don’t mess with me” kind of vibe about him. This kind of attitude from TV judges is not new. Judge Judy also has that same kind of personality. However unlike her, Judge Mazz from what I have seen, rarely yells and shouts at the litigants, nor does he blatantly call them names as much as Judge Judy does. Of course, it is possible that one of the reasons he does not yell at the litigants that much is because he (unlike Judge Judy) is standing just a couple feet in front of them. But another reason could be that he has a bit more tolerance and patience than Judy does. This doesn’t mean he isn’t tough however. Even though he does not raise his voice quite as much as some other TV judges, he most certainly has an air of authority about him that makes both litigant and viewer straighten up and take notice. He definitely puts his two cents in like all TV judges have been known to do, such as when he voiced his disapproval of a brother suing his little sister over some technological gadget. The man is also incredibly intelligent to come up with the idea of taking court proceedings to the streets.
One might say this no-nonsense and slightly intimidating Italian arbitrator could be the Godfather of all TV judges. However, I don’t think anyone needs to worry about waking up with their pet’s severed head next to them after crossing this guy. He seems like a genuinely nice fellow who is very educated, and has a deep respect for the law as well as morality. Although, he has been known to say some pretty odd things on his show from time to time, such as something along the lines of “Where I come from, if a dog bites me, I bite back. I’d bite his head right off!”
Did I hear him correctly? Did he actually say he’d bite a dog’s head off? Hmm… I wonder if Judge Mazz is an Ozzy Osbourne fan.
“Street Court: Justice. At the Scene”
Wilson, Michael. “Street Court, with Michael Mazzariello as Judge Mazz: Let’s Take it Outside” NYTimes.com