What 11 TV Judges Did Before Holding Court on Screen

Glenda Hatchett Mills Lane Marilyn Milian
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images, Bob Martin/Allsport via Getty Images, Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The death of Mills Lane this month ended a storied career that had the Nevadan passing judgment in both the TV courtroom and the boxing ring. And this famed referee wasn’t the only television judge with a long résumé.

Below, we’re listing the credentials of notable arbitrators of the small screen, including some who were record-setters in their line of work. In the words of Lane, let’s get it on!

Joe Brown

Joe Brown

The star of Judge Joe Brown made a name for himself as the first Black prosecutor for the city of Memphis, TN, and was later elected judge of Division 9 of the State Criminal Courts for Shelby County, TN, according to his bio.

Patricia DiMango
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Patricia DiMango

This former Hot Bench star was a judge in the New York City Criminal Court and a justice on the New York State Supreme Court in the 2nd and 11th Judicial Districts, as her bio for the show reveals.

Mablean Ephriam
JC Olivera/Getty Images

Mablean Ephriam

Before presiding over Divorce Court from 1999 to 2006, Ephriam worked as a correctional officer, a legal secretary, a law clerk, and a prosector in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, per her website.

Alex Ferrer
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

Alex Ferrer

The titular star of Judge Alex was a police officer and detective before he got his law degree and became the youngest circuit court judge in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, according to his show’s website.

Glenda Hatchett
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Glenda Hatchett

Before Judge Hatchett and The Verdict With Judge Hatchett aired, she worked as senior attorney for Delta Air Lines before accepting an appointment as the Chief Presiding Judge of the Fulton County Juvenile Court in Georgia, her law firm’s website reports.

Ed Koch
JP Yim/Getty Images

Ed Koch

Koch was already a household name by the time he joined The People’s Court in 1995. The late lawyer was a U.S. Representative from New York from 1969 to 1977 and the Mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989.

Mills Lane
Bob Martin/Allsport via Getty Images

Mills Lane

The late star of Judge Mills Lane was a prosecutor, a district attorney, a district court judge, a boxer, and a boxing referee at various points in his career, according to The New York Times. In fact, he refereed the infamous fight in which Mike Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield‘s ear.

Greg Mathis
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Greg Mathis

The Judge Mathis star headed Reverend Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign in Michigan and became the youngest elected judge in the state’s history when he was elected to Michigan’s 36th District Court in 1995, according to The HistoryMakers.

Marilyn Milian
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Marilyn Milian

The star of The People’s Court for the past two decades, Milian is a Georgetown Law alum who served as assistant state attorney in Florida and a county court judge and a circuit court judge in Miami earlier in her career, as the show’s website reports.

Judy Sheindlin
Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Judy Sheindlin

The Judge Judy alum, Judy Justice star, and Hot Bench creator was a prosecutor in the New York City family court system, a family court judge appointed by Koch, and a supervising judge in the family court’s Manhattan branch before her huge TV stardom.

Lynn Toler
Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for WE tv

Lynn Toler

The star of Divorce Court from 2006 to 2020, Tyler is a University of Pennsylvania Law School grad who served as Cleveland Heights Municipal Court judge for more than eight years, according to her bio.