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The Untold Truth Of Judge Joe Brown

The hit courtroom reality series Judge Joe Brown presided over the airwaves for 15 years. During that time, his show earned one Emmy nomination for outstanding legal program, and came in as the second-highest rated court TV show during its entire run, following closely on the heels of Judge Judy. Since the show ended in 2013 after heated contract negotiation conflicts, Brown has not strayed far from the public eye, unintentionally producing some serious TMZ fodder along the way. Has he lost all the credibility he once held behind the bench? You be the "Judge."

He spent five days in jail

During a proceeding in Shelby County Juvenile Court in 2014, Brown was arrested for contempt of court and being "verbally abusive" during a pro-bono child support case for an African-American woman he had just met. Initially, the outburst garnered him a day in jail, but the sentence reached five days as his diatribe of colorful language escalated. Not only did Brown get jail time, the incident also put a major damper on his bid for Shelby County District attorney, for which he had been campaigning that year. He did his time, but was also verbal following his release, saying the experience was like "being in a slave warehouse." He has also been heavily criticized for comparing himself to Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. during his arrest. Brown defended his outrage by describing Shelby County as being the "most racist and bigoted court system" he'd ever encountered, and said he firmly believed his client was a victim.

He's been banned from practicing law in Tennessee

In June of 2016, the Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended Brown from practicing law, due to a string of incidents culminating in the aforementioned outburst in the Shelby County Court. The incident produced a "petition for discipline" against him, though Brown was placed on "disability inactive" status, although that ruling has been suspended indefinitely until Brown is deemed fit to properly represent himself. Brown reported complications from a medication used to treat Diabetes II, in addition to hypertension and stress, and has sought help for the conditions that led to his suspension.

There's footage of him drunk all over the internet

A slew of incriminating YouTube videos have surfaced in the last couple of years in which Brown is depicted in the midst of drunken antics. One video clearly shows the then-married Brown drunkenly feeling on some female fans and slurring and swearing like a sailor. His diatribe includes some pretty misogynistic statements as well as some slams on his former TV show. The questionable taste and behavior caught on camera doesn't quite support the holier-than-thou approach Brown took on TV—and while he certainly isn't the first celebrity to be busted acting out, Brown's indiscretions certainly cast an unfavorable light on the string of incidents leading up to his suspension.

He's been sued for slander by guests

Judge Joe's tough approach to the litigants on his shows produced some pretty outrageous television. Brown's conclusions that a guest was guilty were often followed by beratement and lecturing, and he knew how to get his in-studio audience laughing at the defendant's expense. Although he was known to be harsh with his words and his verdicts, he also allowed guests who he deemed as "victims" the opportunity to speak out against their offenders. In 2010, the Judge was sued by a guest for slander and fraud, but the defendant-turned-plaintiff didn't stand a chance. Waivers that litigants signed before being featured on the show dissolved the suit immediately.

He ran for District Attorney of Shelby County, Tennessee

In 2014, Brown ran for the seat of District Attorney General in Shelby County, Tennessee. He'd made his name in the state, becoming the first African-American prosecutor in Memphis, and going on to practice privately before his appointment as judge in Shelby County. The accomplishments and respect he garnered in the jurisdiction did not stand up to the reputation he earned as a brash TV personality, and his volatility off-camera didn't help either. He lost to the incumbent with a meager 35% of the vote.

It was ultimately Brown's demeanor behind the bench that first caught the eye of TV producers. After gaining notoriety during the final appeal of James Earl Ray for his conviction of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Brown presided in the case as it was tried in the Shelby County Criminal Court—but was removed from the investigation due to alleged bias. Word got out the Brown had made it known that he did not believe the weapon tied to Ray was the one used in the assassination. Producers saw an outspoken, opinionated and equally charming personality with a legal reputation, and sought after him him to star in a court show accentuating Judge Judy.