Marilyn Milian

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Marilyn Milian
Marilyn Milian by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Milian in 2016
Born (1961-05-01) May 1, 1961 (age 57)
Manhattan, New York City, US
ResidenceMiami, Florida, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Miami (B.S.)
Georgetown University (J.D.)
  • Judge
  • television personality
  • professor
EmployerHarvard Law School (1989–1990)
University of Miami (adjunct faculty)
Known forThe People's Court (2001–present)
Spouse(s)John Schlesinger

Marilyn Milian (born May 1, 1961) is an American retired Florida state circuit court judge who currently presides over the American courtroom television series The People's Court. She is the first Latina arbitrator to preside over a court show.[1] By the end of the show's 28th season (2012–13), Milian had completed twelve-and-a-half seasons presiding over The People's Court, making her the longest-presiding arbitrator on the series.[1]

Early life[edit]

Milian was born in Manhattan to Cuban parents Jorge, a general contractor,[2] and Georgina Milian.[3][4] She is fluent in English and Spanish.[5] The family moved from Astoria, Queens, to Miami when she was eight years old. She graduated from St. Brendan High School.[3]

She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Miami, graduating summa cum laude, with a 4.0 grade point average. She then attended Georgetown University Law Center, earning her J.D., cum laude, at age 23. She spent a year working at Harvard Law School, where she served as director of training for the Guatemala Project. She was responsible for training the Guatemalan trial judiciary, defense, and prosecution bar in investigatory and trial techniques.[4]


Legal career[edit]

Milian worked as an assistant state attorney for the Dade County State Attorney's Office. She was appointed to the position by Janet Reno, who was then the state attorney for the county. In 1999, Florida governor Jeb Bush appointed Milian to the Miami Circuit Court, where she served in the Criminal Division. Prior to that, she spent five years in the Miami County Court in the Domestic Violence Court, Criminal, and Civil divisions. In 2001, she replaced Jerry Sheindlin as judge of The People's Court, and became the first Hispanic judge on any English-language television court show. Milian is listed as an adjunct faculty member of the University of Miami School of Law, teaching litigation skills.[6]

The People's Court[edit]

Milian currently serves as presiding judge in the second life of the courtroom show The People's Court, the first arbitration-based reality court show and the second-longest running court show in history. Milian has presided over the program since spring 2001, which was late in The People's Court's 17th season (or fourth season of the revived version of the show).

The People's Court has featured several arbitrators, with Milian currently holding the title of the longest-presiding arbitrator over the series. By completion of the show's 28th season (2012–13), Milian had completed twelve and a half seasons presiding over the program, officially making her the longest-running judge on The People's Court. Joseph Wapner, the show's original judge, was the previous holder of this record. On September 7, 2015, the show as a whole entered its 31st season, which is Milian's 15th season presiding over the program.[7]

In contrast to The People's Court's previous arbiters, Milian is considerably more animated in her role.[8] As examples, she is assertively loud and clear, she motions and gesticulates wildly in interaction, and she regularly even departs from the bench to interact with and excoriate the litigants. Milian is also known for being levelheaded and logical in her observations and handling of the cases.[8][9] Although engaging for the most part,[10] Milian also dishes out a good-natured, lively sass at the litigants and does not tolerate any disrespect from them.[1][11]

Milian informally speaks with her audience and answers their various questions outside of tapings of The People's Court.[citation needed] From her Cuban heritage, Milian often quotes phrases from her grandmother when addressing litigants. For example, in admonishing a litigant who tried lying before her, Milian once stated, "No sabes ni adobar la mentira... You don't even know how to season the lie to make it palatable."[citation needed]

On the show, Judge Milian decides actual small-claims court cases. Participants (plaintiff and defendant) agree before the show begins to drop their case and have it decided by arbitration through the show. The winners of the cases are awarded from the show's budget, so the losers do not actually "pay back" the winners. The losing parties are usually also compensated for their appearances.

Judge Milian explains Americans' fascination with the court show genre: "We are a fast-food nation. People love to see resolution, they want to watch someone who has done wrong confronted and see justice prevail … all in an hour."[12]

Milian was portrayed by Cecily Strong in a 2017 Saturday Night Live parody of The People's Court where she presided over a case between President Donald Trump and three judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Milian is married to John Schlesinger, a former assistant United States attorney, who in 2004 was elected to the 11th Judicial Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Florida. This is the same position that Milian held before retiring to The People's Court. They live in Coral Gables, Florida, with their three children: Cristina (born in 1996), Alexandra (born in 1998), and Sofia (born on November 28, 2001). She travels to Stamford, Connecticut bimonthly for three days of taping of The People's Court.

Judge Milian lends her support to many community and philanthropic organizations. She is the spokesperson for the FBI's Safe Online Surfing (FBI-SOS)[14] campaign. She is a sought-after speaker, well known for her dedication to the Hispanic community and a strong voice against domestic violence. Milian has served as emcee for a number of charitable causes, including the Latino Commission on AIDS, the Lighthouse for the Blind, the Miami-Dade County Teachers Awards, Hope for Vision, and the South Florida Children's Home Society.

She was an honorary host for National Chairman Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2003 annual celebration of the South Florida Inner-City Games. Milian was the honorary judge for Washington's 2002 Teachers Making a Difference campaign and is actively involved in supporting Southern Florida's Children's Cancer Center's Summer Camp, hosting "Camp Court" mock trials of camp counselors by the young campers. On September 20, 2006, she received the "Groundbreaking Latina of the Year" award from Catalina and the National Association of Latina Leaders.

Television credits[edit]

Year(s) Title Role Notes
2001–present The People's Court Herself
2002 As the World Turns Judge three episodes
2007 George Lopez Judge Alvarez two episodes


  1. ^ a b c "The People's Court | Judge Milian". Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  2. ^ "Sewage Backup Blowout". The People's Court. Warner Bros. Entertainment. January 9, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Diaz, Johnny (December 28, 2001). "Verdict's in on Milian's first year on `People's Court'". The Journal Times. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Ogunnaike, Lola (July 2, 2006). "Don't Mess With the People's Judge, Marilyn Milian". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  5. ^ "Marilyn Milian". Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  6. ^ "University's of Miami - School of Law". Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  7. ^ "The People's Court | About". Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Marilyn Milian's "People's Court" moves to WSFL - Sun Sentinel". August 27, 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  9. ^ "The People's Court | Judge Milian". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2013-09-14.
  10. ^ "Tube Talk 19, "The People's Court"". Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  11. ^ "University of Wisconsin- Whitewater | Handbook". Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  12. ^ "Marilyn Milian Biography". Fordham University School of Law. Archived from the original on September 6, 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
  13. ^ McGee, Ryan (February 12, 2017). "Alec Baldwin on 'SNL': 3 Sketches You Have to See". Rolling Stone.
  14. ^ "FBI — New Cyber Safety Website for Teachers, Students". Retrieved October 16, 2012.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Jerry Sheindlin
Judge of The People's Court
March 12, 2001–present
Succeeded by