CBS seems to have offered mixed signals over whether it ever bought the rights to the “Judge Judy” library.
The Hollywood Reporter reported on Wednesday about an ongoing lawsuit between CBS and former “Judge Judy” producers Kaye Switzer and Sandi Spreckman, who were fired shortly after the show launched in 1996 even though they supposedly convinced its star, Judge Judith Sheindlin, to take her judicial talents to television.
Back in 2015, CBS signaled it wanted to extend “Judge Judy” for additional seasons, the report said. At the time, Sheindlin would agree to continue starring in the courtroom TV show only if she had rights to the show’s library. However, a 2017 press release from CBS announced that the network acquired the library back.
“I’m overjoyed that CBS will continue to shepherd my program and be the custodian of the library,” Sheindlin said in the press release. “They are the gold standard in television, and I’m fortunate to be in business with such talented people.”
But in the latest twist, according to court documents from the lawsuit obtained by THR, the sale may never have taken place after all.
“A review of the 2015 and 2017 agreements reflects that no such sale to Sheindlin ever occurred, and so no sale back to the CBS defendants occurred either,” CBS attorneys said in the court files this month. “The written contracts reflect that a sale to Sheindlin was contemplated, but never consummated.”
The lawyers also claimed the 2017 deal “canceled” the “contemplated transfer” of rights to the library.
Despite the new questions over its accuracy, the press release was still active on CBS’s website as of Wednesday.
In the lawsuit, Switzer and Spreckman were demanding all relevant documents from CBS and Sheindlin regarding the 2015 and 2017 negotiations, including emails exchanged between Sheindlin and former CBS attorney David Theodosopoulos. The network claimed the messages were protected under attorney-client privilege.
Both sides are scheduled to appear in court this Thursday to discuss the documents.
CBS declined to comment.