Since she first arrived on the daytime scene in 1996 and upended the staid court-TV genre with her suffer-no-fools attitude, "Judge Judy" Sheindlin has been a hit. The sharp-tongued judge has had one constant by her side: Petri Hawkins Byrd,the solidly built, deep-voiced court bailiff who has one of TV's most interesting occupations: He is the guard dog to the pit bull.
Their palpable chemistry, illustrated by sly asides and knowing glances, is one of the key components of "Judge Judy," which has become the undisputed champ of the syndication world, outdistancing favorites such as "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy." He has been on the show since day one, and worked with Sheindlin as a bailiff when she was a justice in Manhattan Family Court.
The bailiff known as "Byrd" also has an outsized personality: He's a comedian at heart and has performed at "smooth jazz" concerts. He's acquired his own following, complete with a contingent of fans who ask for autographs and imitate his signature gesture — a two-fingered summons to the litigants to enter the courtroom and plead their case.
For more on Byrd and "Judge Judy," read this feature.
— Greg Braxton
Photo: "Judge Judy" Sheindlin tries one of her cases as bailiff Petri Hawkins Byrd and an unidentified cameraman look on. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times