“Raise your right hand.” Judge Marilyn Milian bangs the gavel on the bench of the multiple Emmy award-winning The People’s Court. When asked how long she will continue to preside over The People’s Court, Milian responds, laughing, “when they pry my cold white knuckles off the gavel.” Milian continues to resolve complex cases with compassion while offering sound legal knowledge to all of the litigants that appear before her. Milian’s advice to litigants: “Social media is a valuable courtroom tool. Posts, tweets and photos can be used as evidence to prove your case, so don’t get rid of them! And remember, say it, forget it, write it, regret it!”
Judge Milian is honored to be the first Latina Judge to host a nationally syndicated television court show. In the courtroom, Milian often uses wisdom inspired by her Cuban mother and grandmother when addressing litigants. Milian proudly admits she gets her feistiness from her mother and her drive from her father.
Originally from Queens, NY, Milian moved to Miami with her family when she was eight years old. Milian received her undergraduate degree at the University of Miami, where she graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 grade average. She then attended Georgetown Law School, where she earned her law degree and graduated cum laude at age 23.
Milian 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.
Judge Milian is well known for her dedication to the Hispanic community and a strong voice against domestic violence.
HISPANIC Network Magazine (HNM) caught up with Judge Milian about her career.
HNM: What has your experience been like on The People’s Court?
Judge Milian: Incredible! What can be better than presiding over wild cases hand selected throughout the country by expert hand-selectors (our producers)? Twenty years later, I still get excited when I read the first sentence in the first complaint in a stack of complaints when I am preparing! And the people I work with are fabulous—they have become friends.
What has been your most memorable experience on the show?
Three months after I started back in 2001, I found out I was pregnant with my third daughter. Television has a rhythm—you tape during the year, and you are “dark” or on hiatus during the
summer. My family planning had no such rhythm! So almost right out of the box, everyone had to work together and change their summer plans, and work through the summer so I could have those two months off with the baby when she came. As it turns out, it was only a month and a half, because my baby also didn’t respect television’s rhythm—and she accompanied me during the following four months to work in New York City, since I was her food source! My producer surprised me by turning my bailiff’s dressing room into a temporary nursery. Not only did Douglas not mind; he never moved back. That’s what I mean when I say it’s a fabulous environment.
What do you love most about your job?
I love being able to bring justice to people who desperately seek it. These problems may be small claims, but to our litigants, it’s probably the one time in their lives they will seek the intervention of the courts. I feel the weight of that every day, that their entire sense of justice will depend on how I treat and teach them—win or lose.
What inspired you to pursue law?
The same thing that is inspiring my daughters. I have three girls—the first is attending Georgetown Law School, the second was admitted for next year, and the third? Well that one is still in formation; she is a senior in high school, and the world is her oyster. What inspires us? The Cuban women in this family NEVER met an argument they didn’t love, or an injustice that didn’t need their personal attention!
What advice would you give others who want to pursue a career in law?
A career in the Law is one of the most fulfilling professions anyone can pursue. All around us in our daily lives, we see injustices committed against others. My legal degree affords me an opportunity to right the wrongs I see, not only in the courtroom but also in business, and even in our community. A legal degree teaches you to think analytically, strive toward compromise and accurately assess the legal ramifications of decisions to choose the best path.