Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Controversial Ex-Judge Appears on The Law Firm
Censured Ex-Judge Lands Reality TV Gig
New York LawyerAugust 2, 2005
By Warren LutzThe Recorder
Move over Judge Judy and make room for Judge Howard.
Judge Howard is retired Tulare County Superior Court Judge Howard Broadman, whose controversial sentencing techniques once made him the subject of his own "60 Minutes" segment — and landed him in hot water with the state's Commission on Judicial Performance and the California Supreme Court.
Broadman, 55, now acts as a judge on NBC's latest reality game show, "The Law Firm," where a dozen young attorneys participate in an elimination-style competition for $250,000.
Broadman, who works in private practice as an arbitrator and mediator, says he has no idea how he came to be a part of the show.
"They just called me up," he said. "I asked one of the people, 'How did you find me?'"
Broadman is no stranger to the national media.
In 1991, he grabbed attention when he sentenced a woman guilty of child abuse to probation only if she used Norplant, a birth control device that is implanted in a woman's arm.
He resigned from the bench in 1999, a year after being censured by the California Supreme Court for talking to the media about cases, committing willful misconduct and appearing in another judge's courtroom when an attorney he despised was testifying — just to be "an asshole," Broadman said at the time.
Producer David Garfinkle, one of the creators of "The Law Firm," said Broadman was a natural for TV.
"I had seen a story on him on "60 Minutes" years ago, and I was always kind of fascinated by him," Garfinkle said. "He's one I remembered, and we gave him a call."
Garfinkle said the show's producers were looking for unique personalities and a strong presence for the show's judges, who act as arbitrators and decide actual cases. Broadman had both qualities.
Producers also scoured mediation centers looking for retired judges. Four other judges — all formerly Los Angeles County Superior Court judges — appear on the show. "They are all different," Garfinkle said. "But Judge Broadman is quite a character."
While he's been a critic of the justice system in the past, Broadman said he isn't taking his TV role very seriously.
"It is acting, it is entertainment," he said.
He can't talk about the plots of future episodes, which feature increasingly complex cases. But he giggles when he thinks about them. "The fifth episode that I'm on, it's unbelievably creative what they do," he said.
Visalia attorney John Bianco, who tuned in to watch Broadman, said few local attorneys are surprised the judge wound up on the small screen.
"There was some talk about when he retired that he was going to do some television," Bianco said. Bianco added that he doesn't usually enjoy reality TV, but found "The Law Firm" "interesting."
More TV work may be in store for Broadman, but he won't talk specifics. "It's in negotiations," he said. "Other people have contacted me."
Whatever the future holds, he seems to be taking TV fame in stride.
In a phone interview before Thursday's premiere, Broadman could be overheard telling a neighbor, "Don't miss Channel 24 today, they came over today and filmed me at the house!"
Then he turned his attention back to the phone.
"Well-wisher shit," he explained.