There’s a new judge set to rule, and her name is Faith Jenkins. Her show, Judge Faith, follows a long history of diversity in reality courtroom series. The popular shows have blazed trails by having black men and women at the forefront. Though blacks make up 6-8 percent of all judges in the American legal system, at one time, 6 out of 10 judges on daytime court shows were black. Judge Faith is set to premiere Sept 22. With a new judge to watch, we take a look at some of our favorite judges:
Judge Faith Jenkins
A Louisiana native, Jenkins has worn many hats. Before earning her law degree, she was Miss Louisiana 2000 and the first runner-up for Miss America 2001. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University and entered Southern University’s law school, where she ranked No. 1 in her class. After graduating from law school, Jenkins became a litigator at the prestigious Sidley Austin firm in New York City. She spent five years at Sidley Austin and then became a criminal prosecutor for the New York County District Attorney’s Office. Before getting her own reality court series, she was most known as her role as a legal analyst for CNN, MSNBC and Fox.
Judge Joseph “Joe” Brown
Before he found fame on television, Brown was a judge for the state criminal court in Shelby County, Tenn. He got his start in law after receiving his juris doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles. He went on to become the first black prosecutor in Memphis, Tenn. His launch pad to television came after he was removed from the last appeal case for James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated Martin Luther King Jr. Judge Joe Brown was the second-most-popular court series during its run from 1998 to 2013. After the show ended, Brown made an unsuccessful run for district attorney of Shelby County.
Judge Greg Mathis
Mathis’ story of hard knocks has been a well-known part of his show. A Detroit native, Mathis was once a member of a gang. After spending time in jail, Mathis earned his degree from Eastern Michigan University. He was denied a license to practice law for many years after his graduation from law school. Mathis was elected as a district court judge for Michigan’s 36th District in 1995. His successful show, Judge Mathis, has been in production since 1999.
Judge Mablean Ephriam
Ephriam had not served as a judge before taking her role on Divorce Court. Though she did not have experience as a judge, Ephriam had worked many years as a prosecuting attorney in Los Angeles. She served as the judge for Divorce Court from 1999 to 2006. She is also known for her appearances in Tyler Perry’s Madea films.
Judge Lynn Toler
Toler became the presiding judge over Divorce Court in 2006. Toler, a graduate of Harvard University, entered law after earning her degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. After law school, Toler became the sole municipal judge for the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court. After her tenure as a judge, she became a professor at Ursuline College. It was after her stint as a professor that Toler joined Divorce Court.
Diamond Sharp is an editorial fellow at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.