‘Hot Bench’ Judge Tanya Acker Explains How Cases on the Show Differ From Off-Screen Courtrooms

Tanya Acker of the syndicated hit show Hot Bench has presided over a wide variety of court cases. Recruited by the legendary Judge Judy Sheindlin for the reality series, Acker is clearly an expert on the many processes of the justice system.

In an interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Acker spoke on several topics including how Hot Bench litigants get a more streamlined day in court as well as details on her recently released book.

Judge Tanya Acker of 'Hot Bench'
Judge Tanya Acker of ‘Hot Bench’ | Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Tanya Acker gets called for ‘Hot Bench’

Acker was a practicing lawyer when she was invited to try out for a seat on Hot Bench. She described being contacted by the network and meeting with Scheindlin, who created the reality series.

I got a call that CBS is putting together this new show,” Acker told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “I met with Judy and her team and some of the executives at CBS. They were considering different groups of people. … They tried out different combinations of us, and I made the cut.”

The Hot Bench judge praised Scheindlin for her mentorship. Acker credited the famous legal figure for advising her to acquire judging experience, which helped further her career.

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“She’s amazing – she’s a force of nature,” Acker raved. “She is an incredible mentor and has provided wonderful advice and guidance for me. She’s had very much an open-door, open-phone policy, so it’s been great working her.”

‘Hot Bench’ can deliver a quicker resolution for litigants than camera-less court

Manning the bench with fellow judges Patricia DiMango and Michael Corriero, Acker revealed that those entering the courtroom on Hot Bench are fortunate to be receiving a streamlined legal process.

“What you see on Hot Bench is a part of the case,” Acker explained. “We do the case from start to finish. … The difference is that we probably give people more time because we have lighter case loads. Those litigants who appear on our show are really catching a break. Chances are, we’re going to hear their case more quickly than if they had to wait in line with everybody else in all of those other crowded courtrooms around the country.”

While it may seem to the Hot Bench audience that plaintiffs and defendants are often cut off when telling their side, Acker emphasized that the TV judges are actually being generous with their time.

“I promise you, we let people talk far more than they would be able to in an off-camera court, where a judge has 50 other cases behind that one,” Acker remarked. “There are some parts of the process that, frankly, are just not that interesting to watch. … There is a lot of dead time in court. … The process is just nowhere near as efficient, and sometimes as dramatic or as emotionally satisfying, as it is for some of the people who come on our show.”

Tanya Acker shares her legal expertise

In her new book Make Your Case: Finding Your Win in Civil Court, Acker explains to readers what the legal process entails. Those considering a visit to the judge will gain a realistic understanding of what lies ahead, thanks to Acker’s user-friendly guide.

“One of the things I’ve noticed is that people really can approach court with a sense of bewilderment,” the Hot Bench judge told Showbiz Cheat Sheet.
“They don’t often understand that the process really can require a lot of you … Even the easiest case that you think is open and shut can take a couple of years.”

Acker’s primary motivation in presenting Make Your Case to the public was to help potential litigants make an informed decision on whether to go forward, and how to prepare for their day in court.

“The thing that does strike me is how much people really rely on court,” Acker noted. “That’s why it’s one of the things that motivated me to write the book. Court is a place where everybody can be heard. There just is almost no other place like that in our society.”