Judge Judy: Social Stratification

This particular case takes place in the judicial courtroom of the Honourable Judge Judy. This specific case was concerned with the plaintiff; Karen Anne Davenport and the defendant; Kelly Filkins. The plaintiff; Karen Anne Davenport claims that she had purchased two cell phones off of the website, ‘eBay’, and did not receive her items; what she did receive was two photos of the cell phones and not the actual items itself. The defendant claims that she had stated on the advertisement that it was the auction of two photos and not the cell phones themselves.

In a judicial courtroom such as this one it is evident that the judge holds the most authority, she is placed on a podium; higher from all parties as well as the general audience and is placed behind the bailiff towards the centre of the room, to present all the attention to the judge. The judge is also greeted on their arrival into the room by a standing ovation and sits before everyone is seated, as a gesture of respect/authority. On another level, the two parties are placed beside one another, yet directly opposite, to illustrate a dispute between the two parties. This type of courtroom clearly illustrates the inequalities among the judge and the disputing parties, as well as the general audience.

The judge’s final ruling on the case was in favour of the plaintiff, on the grounds that the defendant had included the physical characteristics of the phones in the description pertained in the advertisement. Come the end of the case, the judge did make the just and righteous decision. The judge’s conclusion was clearly impartial to both parties and was based on standard legal principles, rather than personal preference or political influence. In addition, the judge’s role was completely arbitrary to the case, acting as a mediator between the two parties, dependant on the evidence in which was available.

In contrast to law and justice theories, I would apply Max Weber’s theory to support my position on the fairness of that trial. This type of legal procedure was formal rationality, considering that the judge made her decision on the basis of established rules independent of moral or religious influence and had complete adherence to the facts of the case (Vago and Nelson, p. 35-36). According to Max Weber, ‘modern society is always in pursuit of the rational, simply to accomplish justice in all levels of society.

Personally, if I took on the role of the judge in this specific case, I do not believe that our decisions would differ in essence. However, the one difference in our proceedings would be the amount of compensation awarded to the plaintiff. Considering that justice should be enhanced to serve both parties, the plaintiff should of only been awarded with the sum of the ‘damages’; which in this case was the price of the two cell phones, rather than granted an unsuitable amount of compensation. The plaintiff was awarded $5000.00, although the cost of the items purchased was only $500.00.

Based on the post-judgement comments, it was clear that the plaintiff was pleased with the outcome and ultimately felt as if justice was truly served. On the other hand, the defendant was positive that her case was legitimate, and contradictory to the final proceedings. With this, it can be said that justice is meant to serve all, however it is not meant to satisfy everyone.

In addition, although many argue that the courts/judges manage rather than resolve conflicts; I felt as if this case was managed accordingly, and somewhat resolved among the two parties. The judge managed the case, exemplifying who is at fault and who is to be compensated; and thoroughly demonstrated the grounds on which the ruling took place. The reason I believe that this dispute was not genuinely resolved was because as shown in the post judgement comments it seemed as if only one party was satisfied with the ruling and not the others.

However, it was resolved in a sense that there was closure to the case and a conclusion was formulated with the assistance of a third party. So in some cases, the courts do resolve disputes, however in all cases the conflict is administered to serve its purpose; justice.