A group of indie musicians have come clean about selling a fake case about a dead cat to "Judge Judy"... about four years after their episode aired.
In an interview with Vice, one of the four culprits of the dead cat con, Jonathan Coward, said it was a quick way to make money and snag a free trip to Los Angeles, where "Judge Judy" is recorded.
So how did these fakers manage to punk "Judge Judy," and could they face any legal consequences for their dead-cat hoax?
Fake Dead Cat + Smashed TV = L.A. Vacation
The four culprits (who were also roommates) say they concocted a story so entertaining, they didn't think "Judge Judy" would turn them down. And they were right. The fake case involved allegations that Coward had gotten drunk and smashed two TVs in the shared house, one of which fell and killed a pet cat.
Their fake case aired shortly after it was recorded in 2010, and the fake plaintiff, Kate Levitt, told the Village Voice that she got the $1,000 she was asking for -- from the show. One of the secrets of "Judge Judy" is that while the people are real, the production company actually pays the arbitration award.
Coward, the fake defendant in the fake cat case, told Vice that he received $250 for an "appearance fee" as "compensation for [his] loss of character." The show also apparently comped the flights, hotels, and even meals for all four pranksters while in L.A.
Should You Fake Your Way Onto 'Judge Judy' Too?
Neither Coward nor Levitt seem worried about Judge Judy or the show's production company potentially pursuing them for their fraudulent feline story.
In general, it isn't wise to play "pranks" on private companies in exchange for money or prizes. It is essentially fraud and you'd better believe Judge Judy knows some good lawyers.
Even if you're not jailed or sued for lying to Judge Judy, there's a fair chance she'll just make you feel awful. Coward told Vice that the TV version of their fake case was edited down because "Judy ended up figuring out that [they] were lying." The notoriously tough TV judge apparently even made Levitt cry once she caught them in the lie.
So take this advice: Don't try to sneak any phony baloney past Judge Judy. Even if it involves dead cats.
- How Jonathan Coward and co fake killed a cat to get on Judge Judy (Scallywag and Vagabond)
- Judge Judy Sues Lawyer for False Endorsement (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
- 'Judge Judy' Producers Sue Over YouTube Takedown Request (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
- Jim Harbaugh on 'Judge Judy': A Legal Post-Game Analysis (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)