Judge Judy sues National Enquirer over story claiming she backed Menéndez brothers

Lawyers for Judy Sheindlin said the tabloid’s ‘unequivocal falsehoods’ had dealt a ‘body blow’ to her reputation

Io Dodds
Wednesday 15 May 2024 01:21
Judy Sheindlin, also known as Judge Judy, pictured in 2019
Judy Sheindlin, also known as Judge Judy, pictured in 2019 (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Judge Judy has sued the publisher of the National Inquirer for allegedly damaging her reputation with “unequivocal falsehoods” that she was trying to overturn the conviction of two California murderers.

In a complaint filed in Florida on Monday, lawyers for Judy Sheindlin accused a360 Media and its parent company Accelerate360 of defaming her by falsely claiming that she was trying to overturn the conviction of the Menéndez brothers.

The lawsuit claims that these stories exposed the 81-year-old former judge, whose long-running reality TV show has made her a household name across the US, to "reproach and humiliation".

"Over the course of decades as an arbitrator on one of America’s most watched television programs, and before that as a public servant, Judge Sheindlin has developed a well-deserved reputation as a fair, deliberate, wise, and no-nonsense judge of people and facts," the lawsuit reads.

"In one fell swoop, [that] lifetime-cultivated reputation has taken a body blow in the form of an account replete with 'facts' diminishing her to a rube, a fool, or worse."

The two companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent, and it was unclear on Monday evening how they would respond to the lawsuit.

Erik Menendez (L) and his brother Lyle (R) listen during a pre-trial hearing, on December 29, 1992 in Los Angeles after the two pleaded innocent in the August 1989 shotgun deaths of their wealthy parents, Jose and Mary Louise Menendez of Beverly Hills, California (AFP via Getty Images)

According to Ms Sheindlin's complaint, the trouble began on 10 April with a story by the a360-owned celebrity gossip magazine In Touch Weekly, claiming that Ms Sheindlin was on a "quest" to free the infamous Menéndez brothers from behind bars.

Lyle and Erik Menéndez were convicted in 1996 of murdering their parents with shotguns, which they claimed was an act of self-defence after years of abuse. Last year, the pair filed a new appeal after further evidence emerged that may back up their claims.

"Inside Judge Judy’s Quest to Save the Menéndez Brothers," In Touch allegedly declared, while the Enquirer is said to have followed up 12 days later with "BALONEY! Judge Judy on Warpath to save Menéndez bros".

But the lawsuit claims that these stories were ”unequivocably false”, based on misattributing statements made in a documentary by an entirely different person named Judi Zamos.

"Although the defendants necessarily conceded these articles were false, they did not issue a retraction, apology, or correction," the complaint alleges.

"They claimed in a response, dated 24 April 2024, that the In Touch Weekly author mistakenly confused Judi Zamos with Plaintiff, yet offered no explanation as to whether, and if not, why not, the reporter at issue had actually watched the docuseries episode... or if he had attempted to confirm whether Judi Zamos was the same person."

The case continues.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in