Fans of the 25-year syndicated reality tv show Judge Judy went from being extremely excited for her new show Judy Justice to very unhappy because on the absence of her long-time co-star and bailiff, Petri Byrd Hawkins, prompting many to ask on social media "where's Byrd?"
The answer to why Byrd isn't on Judy Justice isn't likely to please fans of the no-nonsense Judge Judith Sheindlin and her longtime co-star.
When the new 'Judy Justice' trailer premiered, fans immediately noticed Byrd's absence.
On September 30, via Twitter, the account for the new show Judy Justice posted a first-look trailer for the series, and fans quickly noticed something, or rather somebody, was missing. Not only are fans confused by the sudden cast switch, but they are also unhappy with how judge Judy Sheindlin handled the matter.
Byrd Petri Hawkins is replaced as Judy's bailiff.
Within the trailer, Judy states how excited she is to have an entirely new cast and goes on to introduce them: Sarah Rose who will be Sheindlin’s law clerk (and is also Judy’s granddaughter), stenographer Whitney Kumar, and new bailiff Kevin Rasco, whom Judy described as “one of the warmest people.”
Upset fans took to her mentions to express their disdain for Judy's comment about her having been "alone for the past 25 years." If you are a fan of Judge Judy, you know that Petri Byrd Hawkins has been her bailiff since the show premiered back in 1996 and never wavered in his duty to the role or respect for Judy.
The root of the controversy is how Judy handled replacing Byrd.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Byrd details that since his wife was undergoing chemotherapy and surgery for the removal of a tumor, he “didn't have time to think about or ask about Judy Justice.” He continues that, "It wasn't until July that I called the judge and asked, 'Hey, should I look for something else or am I included in the Judy Justice project?”
In this conversation, Judy informed Petri that he wouldn’t be included in her new show, “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 took to social media to address more of his concerns.
Additionally, Entertainment Weekly noted that Byrd’s wife, who had been a producer for Judge Judy, was asked to participate in Judy Justice but was ultimately unable to do so because of her health. For Byrd, it's a matter of principle. “I don't think she understood how confused and dismayed I was after being there for 25 years, from the beginning of her career, and not being at least given the opportunity to say whether or not I wanted to continue that relationship."
What does the future hold for 'Judy Justice' without Petri Byrd Hawkins?
For fans of Byrd and Sheindlin alike, it was assumed, given the 25-year relationship between the two, that she would definitely include him in her new ventures or, if not, at least address the casting change in a way that honored their long history.
It appears that Judy felt she made the right choice given her excitement in the trailer about her new cast. Whether or not the absence of Byrd and casting of Kevin Rasco proves to be like an awkward first date will be known soon enough. The series premieres November 1, exclusively on IMDbTV.