Judge Judy bailiff on surprise absence: 'She didn't ask me' to be on the new show
Petri Hawkins Byrd would have loved to serve as bailiff on Judy Sheindlin's new show, Judy Justice. But he says she never asked.
In an exclusive interview with Entertainment Weekly, the longtime bailiff on Judge Judy said he was left out of discussions regarding Sheindlin's new show on IMDB TV, which debuts Nov. 1. Like all Judge Judy fans, Byrd found out that Sheindlin was going to do a new courtroom program when she announced it during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in March of 2020. But he never talked with his boss about the new show while they completed the 25th and final season of Judge Judy; because of the pandemic, Sheindlin taped remotely in New York while Byrd worked in L.A. with the rest of the crew.
"My assumption is if you were going on to do something else, that you were at least going to ask me if I wanted to have the opportunity to audition for the role," Byrd tells EW.
After production wrapped in April of this year, Byrd turned his focus to his wife, Makita Bond-Byrd, a longtime Judge Judy producer who was scheduled for brain surgery. "I didn't have time to think about or ask about Judy Justice," says Byrd, whose wife just completed her third round of chemotherapy. (Doctors successfully removed 95 percent of her tumor.) "It wasn't until July that I called the judge and asked, 'Hey, should I look for something else or am I included in the Judy Justice project?'"
"She informed me I was not being asked to come along on the project," continued Byrd, who had served as Sheindlin's bailiff since Judge Judy's premiere in 1996. "I didn't inquire as to why, that's her choice. But she did inform me that fundamentally, I was priced out as the new bailiff on her new show. My salary would have been too much. I was curious: How would she know? She didn't ask me. She didn't give me an opportunity to have accepted a lower salary."
Fans learned that Byrd had been replaced when IMDB recently released a trailer for Judy Justice. Her new bailiff is Kevin Rasco, who Byrd says provided personal security for Sheindlin while on Judge Judy.
Sheindlin, through a spokesperson, released this statement Friday: "Byrd is terrific and we had a great 25-year run. This is a whole new program with a whole new cast and an exciting energy."
Looking back on his chat with Sheindlin in July, Byrd thinks she assumed he called because they didn't have a proper sendoff after 25 years on Judge Judy. (Ironically, he says his wife was asked to participate on Judy Justice, but her health issues made it impossible.) "The call with Judy ended pleasantly enough," he says. "I don't think she understood how confused and dismayed I was after being there for 25 years, from the beginning of her career, and not being at least given the opportunity to say whether or not I wanted to continue that relationship."
Byrd is particularly humbled by the reaction of fans, who expressed shock at his absence in the Judy Justice trailer. He's now on the hunt for new opportunities, like the guest spot he just had on The Bold and the Beautiful. He's been doing voiceover work, too. "I'm like if I did something wrong or offended you or brought shame to the show, or if was involved in numerous scandals in the 25 years we were together, I might understand why you didn't want to bother in the end," says Byrd. "That's just the way it went. I just know that God has something else for me."
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