The People's Court is an American arbitration-based reality court show currently presided over by retired Florida State Circuit Court Judge Marilyn Milian. Milian, the show's longest-reigning arbiter, handles small claims disputes in a simulated courtroom set.
The People's Court is the first court show to use binding arbitration, introducing the format into the genre in 1981. The system has been duplicated by most of the show's successors in the judicial genre. Moreover, The People's Court is the first popular, long-running reality in the judicial genre. It was preceded only by a few short-lived realities in the genre; these short-lived predecessors were only loosely related to judicial proceedings, except for one: Parole took footage from real-life courtrooms holding legal proceedings. Prior to The People's Court, the vast majority of TV courtroom shows used actors, and recreated or fictional cases. Among examples of these types of court shows include Famous Jury Trials and Your Witness.
The People's Court has had two contrasting lives. The show's first life was presided over solely by former Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph Wapner. His tenure lasted from the show's debut on September 14, 1981, until May 21, 1993, when the show was cancelled due to low ratings. This left the show with a total of 2,484 ½-hour episodes and 12 seasons. The show was taped in Los Angeles during its first life. After being cancelled, reruns aired until September 9, 1994.