After serving as Judge Judy Sheindlin‘s bailiff since its first episode in 1996, Petri Hawkins-Byrd says he didn’t even get a chance to audition for the TV judge‘s new show on IMDB TV.
As a matter of fact, Byrd didn’t even have any prior knowledge of the new Judy Justice show until its star, Judge Judy, made an announcement on The Ellen Degeneres Show in March 2020. Despite still being on the L.A. set of Judge Judy through April, while she worked remotely from New York, he tells Entertainment Weekly that he and Sheindlin never even spoke about her new project.
In July, after spending four months intensely focused on helping his wife Makita Bond-Byrd recover from a malignant brain tumor, Hawkins-Byrd said he reached out and half-jokingly asked if he needed to find another job.
“She informed me I was not being asked to come along on the project,” he recounts. “I didn’t inquire as to why; that’s her choice. But she did inform me that fundamentally, I was priced out as the new bailiff on her new show. My salary would have been too much. I was curious: How would she know? She didn’t ask me. She didn’t give me an opportunity to have accepted a lower salary.”
Hawkins-Byrd says that the conversation was pleasant, but he doesn’t think he properly imparted his disappointment. There was no fanfare made about Byrd not continuing on with Judy Justice. Fans simply got a reveal of sorts when the trailer for the show was released this week.
In a statement on Friday, Sheindlin’s spokesperson said, “Byrd is terrific and we had a great 25-year run. This is a whole new program with a whole new cast and an exciting energy.”
Byrd’s wife is also a former member of the Judge Judy family: she was a long-time producer on the show.