Local dispute aired in front of national TV judgeTwo local residents chose Hollywood over Hudson to get a ruling on a small claims suit.
By: Laura Kruse, New Richmond News
Two local residents chose Hollywood over Hudson to get a ruling on a small claims suit.
David Dalton, 46, Hammond, sued his former tenant, Roberta “Bobbi” Schlussler, 43, New Richmond, for $4,666 on the “Judge Joe Brown” show. This is the amount Dalton said the defendant allegedly owed him for five months of back rent and utilities. Schlussler said after suffering a financial hardship, she allegedly sent three real estate house sales over to the plaintiff to call it even.
The “Judge Joe Brown” show segment aired for the first time locally on Monday, April 20, at 3:30 p.m., although filming took place in February. A press release was sent to the New Richmond News promoting the show.
Dalton said the “Judge Joe Brown” show called him after he filed a suit about the issue in St. Croix County Court. Since filing it, Dalton said four court shows have contacted him, including Judge Judy and Judge Alex. Brown’s was the first to contact him, which is why they ended up on his show rather than the others.
He said he told producers he would consider being on the show but it was up to Schlussler if they actually went through with it. He didn’t expect her to agree, he admitted.
Producers then called her, Schlussler said. After getting the details, she agreed to tell her story on “Judge Joe Brown.”
Factually, she said she owed Dalton money. The show paid her, gave her a free trip to Hollywood and agreed to pay off her debt to Dalton if the judge ruled against her, she explained.
Her free flight to Hollywood was Schlussler’s first ride on an airplane. She said she was nervous to be alone but, due to the show’s rules, she and Dalton couldn’t fly together.
“I totally understand,” Schlussler said of the separate flights, explaining the show could have problems if the two argued on the ride.
In all, they spent three days and two nights in Hollywood in separate hotels provided by the show. When they weren’t needed for filming, they got in a little sightseeing, including a walk on Hollywood Boulevard, Schlussler said.
It took the good part of a day to get filming done, Dalton said. He had to wait in the green room with the other plaintiffs while Schlussler waited with the defendants until their case was up.
A producer told her they talked for 12 minutes in front of the judge, Schlussler said.
Both Dalton and Schlussler got camera time to explain their sides.
Their final, edited segment was supposed to run seven to 10 minutes on TV, Dalton said.
After filming, the two wondered what would be taken out of the filming since it was already so short.
Now that they’ve seen the final version, both agree that a lot of dialogue was missing.
“They have to pick and choose,” Dalton said.
“They cut out the best part,” Schlussler lamented. Before they went before Brown, the crew told her that she should get the judge riled up, she said. She wouldn’t get in trouble for it either.
Schlussler did just what she was told. Apparently, Brown got so angry that his bench shook and his coffee cup went airborne.
“They (the crew) said they’ve never seen him that mad,” Schlussler said with a chuckle.
Dalton said Brown seemed to like him more than Schlussler. Those seemingly biased conversations also didn’t make the final edit.
Accusations, eye-rolls and chuckles were also moved around during the editing process, the pair said.
In a poll of the audience during a commercial break, 82 percent thought Dalton was right and deserved the money he asked for.
Brown agreed, and gave Dalton a $5,000 settlement. Dalton said he had asked for $4,600.
Brown closed the case and dismissed the pair by saying, “You outta here, damnit. I’m tired of you.”
Overall, the experience wasn’t terrible, the two said. They still remain friends.
Dalton said he didn’t really tell anyone about the show, and hadn’t heard when it would be broadcast until a few days before. Schlussler said her family and friends knew about it and taped the show.
“It was fun and because I went with such a great person it made it OK,” Schlussler said. “It was a nice vacation.”
Dalton said he hopes people take the show for what it is.
“I hope people take it for its entertainment purposes,” he said.
Brown’s Web site bills him as “non-traditional, no-nonsense, no-holds-barred.”
Judge Joe Brown is the top-rated half-hour, syndicated, reality courtroom series entered its 11th season in 2008 distributed by CBS.