The BLUE Magazine: Judge, we always try to humanize our interviewees, so can you tell us a little about you? Who are you?
Judge Jeanine: Who am I? I’m a girl from a small town in upstate New York who was raised with values that I think reflect the values of America, who was taught to know the difference between right and wrong, who spent her life fighting for a level playing field for victims, and you know, I’m here to talk about them, so I’m still here.
What is something nobody knows about you?
I’ll never tell you. Seriously.
Some people do.
It’s like a confession? Everybody knows I had pigs for 18 years. I love animals. I prosecuted animal cruelty for years.
How about this? when you go home, who are you?
Well, I used to be mom to two kids and now I’m mom to two standard poodles. You know, I’m like every other woman. I clean the house, I do the laundry, I cook, I go shopping. I’m at this stage in my life where now that my kids are grown and gone, that I enjoy life. I look for humor. I’m not in politics anymore. I ran for office five times, four for judge, and once for DA in Westchester County, and then I ran statewide for Attorney General, lost to now Governor Andrew Cuomo. The good news is politics isn’t an important part of my life anymore.
In your opinion, how has law enforcement been treated nationally the last couple of years?
Like shit. That’s a quote. Look, I worked with cops for 32 years. I was the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in a county of over a million people. I had 40 criminal investigators, I had task forces that I put together, I had an intel center where I had cops from NYPD and other federal agencies who worked in my office. It was one of the first intel centers in the country, and after 9/11, NYPD set up shop in my office because of what we had there. I love cops. It’s that simple. Have I prosecuted some? Yeah. When they cross the line, they need to be prosecuted like everybody else. But make no mistake, these are men and women who get up every day and put their lives on the line. They don’t know where they’re going, they don’t know who they’re going to come across. They could be sitting in a car having lunch right before Christmas and some dirtbag comes up and shoots them. I could go on and on, and I don’t want to patronize you guys, but I’ll tell you, but for law enforcement, there would be no line between a civilized and a barbaric society, and anybody who doesn’t recognize that is just plain stupid.
And anybody who doesn’t respect cops is ignorant. I hate the rants. What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them, now? That is fascist, communist, barbaric bullshit. People who do that need to live in a world where they don’t have police protection, where they don’t have people fighting for them, where they don’t have the ability to call 911 and get someone to respond. I just don’t know what these people are thinking. I don’t know where this country is going, and the hit on cops is an indication of the decline in our society. It is an indication that we no longer respect those in authority, whether it’s law enforcement, the military. You know what? Go on your own, get the paddleboat and live on your own. But there are rules, and they have to be followed. And there is only a certain caliber of person, a certain type of person, who’s willing to say, not only will I take low pay, not only will I separate myself from my family, go into one of the most stressful jobs in the world, but willing to put his or her life on the line for people they don’t even know, people who don’t even like them, people will criticize them and sue them in a minute. Shame on us. Shame on the direction that we’re going.
Black lives matter, legit?
Every life matters. All the rest is horseshit.
Who do you admire in law enforcement?
Commissioner Bernard Kerik for all he did for this country during the 9/11 attacks.
What do you make of some presidential candidates continually saying that there’s a systemic racism in law enforcement?
I think what’s happening in this country today is that there is a group of people who believe that they are victims and are disenfranchised, and our politicians, even at the highest level of government, are looking to ingratiate themselves, to appeal to that group. And, there is this common bond that they’re victims, or that they’re being ignored, when the truth is that in some ways if you look at South Chicago, I think victims are being ignored there. So far this year, 1,000 people in Chicago have already been shot. Those are real victims, as far as I’m concerned. But, I think this tale that people are being targeted because of the color of their skin, that’s not my experience. That’s not what I did, and I’m no spring chicken. I was in law enforcement for 32 years, and I don’t believe it. I think cops do what they’re supposed to do. If there are some that don’t, that doesn’t mean that a whole category of people are entitled to kill them, and chant for them to die, and kind of incentivize other mindless idiots to go shoot them.
What effect will electing Hillary or Bernie as President of the United States have on the current negative climate for police officers?
Hillary is pandering… I think that law enforcement will be defunded to the extent that they can defund law enforcement, as if law enforcement has enough resources now. They don’t. I think that there will be this cultural phenomenon where cops are seen as people who are the enemy. And, I think that it would be the worst thing for law enforcement. I think that law enforcement knows that. Law enforcement has always known that. Firefighters, law enforcement. You can give me some people, the tops of the unions will promote her or Bernie, but at the end of the day, they don’t believe in the second amendment, they don’t believe that cops are primarily good people, and I think that they’d be bad for the country.
Conservatives across the nation are waiting for you to enter the political arena again…
Who me? Not a chance… Here’s the thing, I was in politics for many years. I ran for judge and won, I was the first female judge. I ran for DA and won, and then won again, and then won again, first female DA, the first president of the state’s DA Association. I was the first woman to prosecute a murder case in the history of my county. I started the first domestic violence unit in the nation. I’ve done a lot in the public arena as it relates to politics, but for me, politics was the means to do the job that I wanted to do. It wasn’t something for me to get to the next level. To be DA, you had to run. To be a judge, you had to run. Soon as I became a judge, I said this is a little slow for me, so I gave up my robes long before my term ended to run for DA. I’m a fighter. I’m an activist. I am someone who, you know, when I see a playing field that’s not level, I want to level it, whether it’s for women, or children, or the elderly. I fought for a hate crimes law in New York. I went to John Cardinal O’Connor, we were working on a bill to cover everybody, and to get the Catholic Church behind it. I believe in justice. That’s who I am, that’s what I stand for. I have passion for the victims, and I’m furious with criminals. I think the criminal justice system is all screwed up. I think the fact that we call it the criminal justice system as opposed to the victim’s justice system is a mistake. It’s the victim who pays the price. The criminal gets all the rights. That fight for me is over. I’ve done it. I’ve done everything I could. I’ve tried murders, rapes, violent felonies. I started one of the first, if not the first, Internet pedophile sting operation in the nation with 100% conviction rate, first domestic violence unit in the nation that was a model for the rest of the country. I was a fighter. I will not use or go into politics to do what my passion is because I’ve already done it.
What’s your opinion on electing judges, rather than appointing them? which do you prefer?
There was a time when I said electing versus appointed. I really still go with the election thing. Both of them have their negatives. When they’re appointed, it’s a political inside game and anyone who doesn’t see that is stupid. When they’re elected, it may be just a function of the inside game that they play to get on the ballot in a county where that party is favored. But, what I do believe is that judges should have to face the public. I think hiding behind the robes is a mistake.
You have defeated the odds numerous times in male dominated careers, what is the best advice you can give to young women who intend to do the same?
It’s the same advice I gave to my daughter. She’s a lawyer in Manhattan, smarter than I was. She’s making money. I was in government. And that is, always have a sense of humor. Don’t have a chip on your shoulder. Be smarter and better prepared, than everyone, and always make sure you have enough under-eye concealer for those nights when you stayed up all night.
How long does it take you to prepare for your show?
My opening is what I’m most passionate about. It depends how angry I am. Some- times about eight hours, because I only have a couple of minutes and every word has to matter. If I make an argument, it’s the lawyer, the prosecutor, the judge. I need the evidence to back it up. I come out with my opinion and then I back it up with the facts. Now, I can write an open that’s done on Fri- day and Saturday, I’ll see something, I’ll be furious, scrap that one and write a new one in an hour-and-a-half, two hours. But, it reflects my passion, it reflects my quest for justice. Whether you’re in law enforcement, politics, or television, to me it’s about the level playing field, and if I see politicians lie, it infuriates me. It infuriates me when they say, ‘Oh no, this is what I said. This is what I’m going to do,’ and they do just the opposite. They speak out of both sides of their mouth. No one calls them on it. It reminds me of Rudy Giuliani. Many years ago, when he called out a judge and it was a domestic violence case, and it was this huge push back. Everybody said, ‘You can’t criticize judges,’ and Rudy criticized the judge be- cause the judge bailed some domestic violence abuser who then went out and killed the woman. This was a long time ago, and I remember saying to myself, there’s a cultural shift right now, I’m seeing it. And of course, I jumped on it, cause I think, I don’t know whether I was the DA or Assistant DA, I said, yeah, right, they’re not beyond criticism. Neither is the president, neither is the politician. This is America. Every one of us is equal and every one of us has a vote. We’re equal in terms of votes, we’re equal in terms of victims, equal in terms of justice. And anyone who says my life matters more than yours, or this life, that’s all hogwash.
You ever have any fears with calling out the President?
Are you kidding? I’ve been prosecuting, arresting, indicting, convicting, sentencing dirtbags for 30 years. He can wait in line with Robert Durst and all the rest of them. If you don’t have the courage to do your job and do it in a way that reflects your moral core, then don’t do it. Quit.
You ever make a mistake and then say I shouldn’t have said that?
Look, here’s the thing, I say what I think. I’m not here to say what everybody else thinks or put my finger up to the political winds. I’m here to talk about what I believe in. I believe in law enforcement. I believe in justice, and I believe in the first amendment, the second amendment. I got loads of guns. Nobody’s going to take them away from me. Nobody’s going to tell me what I can and can’t do. Nobody’s going to tell me we’re safer without guns. Don’t tell me that taking away people’s guns is the answer to our problems. It isn’t. Imagine you’re in Boston, the Boston bombers have just hit. City’s on lockdown, martial law, I think that there’s a burglar in back of my house, I call 911, no one’s coming because everybody is out looking for Dzhokar Tsarnaev. But, what if my 911 call is about Dzhokar in my backyard in a boat. If I’m not going to have a gun, who’s coming to save me?
They know this, Judge. They’re just saying what the mass wants to hear when it comes to being a liberal.
No, no, no. They don’t know it. They just know that they have bodyguards and they don’t have to defend themselves. Why say it for the masses? Look at what’s happening to all of these victims that are being shot and killed. You don’t think they’d like to defend themselves?
Who’s going to be our next president?
I don’t know.
I think Barack Obama’s tried to change the demographics of this nation, and I think he has, whether they’re coming in from Mexico, or whether he’s flying them in from Central America, or whether he’s bringing them from other countries quietly. I think that we’ve got real problems in this country, where you don’t have to have an ID. There’s something called Voter Registration in some states where you can actually register to vote, and vote in the same day. I’m telling you, dead people are going to vote three and four times this year. And it’s a sad commentary that this nation’s changed, and that’s their agenda.
One word to describe Bill deBlasio?
Blowhard… Maybe that’s too nice.
Will he win again?
It scares me. People vote party… Look, I ran in a Democratic county. I was a Repub- lican, Conservative, Independent. I won. But there are some people who will not cross the line, and I fear that New York City, sanctuary cities, I think that they’re going to vote for him. I think that people don’t care if you’re legal or illegal.
If Trump or another Republican was to get elected into the white House, do you think it’ll be beneficial for the party as a whole or do you think we’ll still have a lot of dissension between parties when we try to think about bipartisan politics?
I think the country is in a mess. Would I prefer a Republican to Hilary Clinton or a Socialist? You betcha. But, I don’t know if this divide will ever end. I’m telling you this, based on the direction we’ve been going with Barack Obama, this negative stereo- typing of cops and creating this sense that you didn’t build it, and all of that other crazy, Socialist stuff, if this country doesn’t make a right turn, literally and figuratively, we’re in trouble, deep trouble.
There was a 1996 case that you were involved in, the Campbell case, and an NyPD officer, and he’s still ‘til this day…
Yeah. He was convicted by a jury. The Appellate Courts affirmed the conviction. The highest courts affirmed it. Then he took it federal. I don’t care what color you are or who you work for, what you do, if you kill somebody, then as far as I’m concerned, I’m going to take it to the Grand Jury, and if they indict you, I’m going to take it to trial. Let me tell you something, I don’t apologize for doing my job to anyone, to any group, and I don’t protect people who think that they need additional cover. I’ve worked with a lot of cops. The cops that I worked with loved me. We made great cases. It’s who we were and what we did. And, you come out of line, and you come at some guy, you got lawyers, you’ve got the best lawyers around.
Was everybody on the jury wrong? Was the evidence wrong? Were the witnesses lying? Are the judges on the take? The judges on the highest court on the take? The federal judges on the take?
Did you find it difficult to separate yourself, not from that case in particular, but being with the police and being their adversary?
No, no, because if I prosecuted a cop, it was because he or she crossed the line. I think the toughest jobs are when the cops arrive on a scene and if they shoot someone that they are intending to target. That’s the toughest job in the world. I was at the National Law Enforcement Foundation in Washington and they put a laser gun on me and they described a scenario. I shot everybody. They said, who do you arrest, who do you call out. I got a guy with a knife, I can’t tell what he’s doing. Then, I got a guy holding a baby, and a woman. It’s a tough job.
Favorite Baseball Team?
I stand up for what I believe.
Chocolate… Dark chocolate.
Are you in a relationship?
No, single. Divorced.
What do you look for in a man?
A sense of humor. Someone whose got courage, someone who’s not intimidated by me, someone who doesn’t have to compete with me, and someone who likes Standard Poodles.
Any last words? any words of encouragement toward our profession as we move forward?
I’ve worked with hundreds of cops. I also admire the cop who doesn’t need attention, who avoids the limelight, who believes that he or she works for God. The cop who is true to his uniform and true to the constitution. There’s no one who is better than another. I admire cops, I admire the institution. I think it’s the unsung cop who deserves the attention, the one who either walks the beat, investigates a crime, is sensitive to victims.
I think that cops need to know that the vast majority respects them, holds them in high esteem. It’s the blabbermouth people who have a grudge, angry, the Occupy Wall Street Group, the really leftist groups. Honestly, I think if they don’t like cops, they should live in a community without them. And, I think that cops need to realize that there’s tremendous support for them. People are not stupid. The public gets it. The big mouths know how to access the press and the media, and therefore, cops are thinking, and not just thinking, they’re getting shot, they know they’re vulnerable. But they need to know that there’s support for them.
Check out Judge Jeanine’s latest book, “He Killed Them All” available at bookstores and online retailers.
(This article is a reprint from the May 2016 Edition of The BLUE Magazine/NJ BLUE Now)