‘Judge Joe Brown’: A Look Back at His Own Legal Problems

Judge Joe Brown was once one of the top court shows. Its popularity had to do with his strong Southern voice, no-nonsense attitude, and signature adjudication style. But as it turns out, the namesake judge has been in trouble himself. Ahead, learn more about Brown, his infamous run-in with the law, and what life has been like for him in recent years.

Judge Joe Brown
Judge Joe Brown sitting down at an event | Jesse Grant/WireImage.com/ABC

‘Judge Joe Brown’ spent more than a decade on the air

It premiered in 1998 and quickly became a hit. The show attracted many viewers due to its format and eventually became the second highest-rated court show behind Judge Judy.

Judge Joe Brown would ultimately enjoy more than 15 years on the air before being canceled by CBS in 2013 amid a salary dispute. At the time, The Hollywood Reporter said Brown had been making $20 million annually but was facing a pay cut amid declining ratings.

Judge Joe Brown at a party
Judge Joe Brown on the red carpet at a party in 2016 | Maury Phillips/WireImage

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For a while after its cancelation, we didn’t hear much about Brown. But then he started making headlines for troubling behavior.

Inside Judge Joe Brown’s 2014 arrest

Less than a year after the show’s cancelation, Brown was arrested for contempt of court. According to USA Today, he was trying to get a woman’s child support case dismissed when he got into a heated dispute with a court employee.

“When I insisted that the woman’s charges be dismissed. He started talking about, I’m not an attorney so-and-so. … I said, ‘You know, it’s wrong. … You’re better than this,'” Brown explained to ABC News at the time.

Every time Brown pushed back, the court official continued to add days in jail. In the end, he had to spend five days behind bars, which he completed in 2015. But despite his sentence, Brown ultimately stood by his actions. He told People (via ABC News): “A citizen was being gravely mistreated … I had an opportunity to stand up for her and I took it.”

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What does Judge Joe Brown do now?

After being released from jail, Brown told Entertainment Tonight he hoped to release a show called True Verdict that would highlight criminal justice issues.

“We aren’t doing anything about correcting this problem, and I think it’s time that we develop a national and local leadership that’s committed to doing something about it, which will be, amongst other things, one of the points and topics that will be looked at [on the new show],” he said.

But the program never materialized.

Though his television presence, in general, has largely decreased, Brown is still active on the political circuit, sometimes appearing in interviews and on other platforms. A Twitter account alleging to belong to Brown often tackles hot button issues ranging from the presidency and health care to racial injustice and violence.