The Good Judge
TV’s Judge David Young on show tunes, animal rights, and his favourite girl, Maggie.
While not devoid of its share of drama, Sony Pictures’ Judge David Young isn’t your everyday small-claims circus. And that’s due to the man holding the gavel. Now into his second season and fast becoming one of the most-loved on-air judges on the block, Young brings campy quick wit, a penchant for bursting into show tunes, and something even more heart-warming to his courtroom: a passion for animal rights. Throughout November, Young, an ardent and long-time supporter of the Humane Society, dedicated a weekly segment called Thank Dog It’s Friday to the issue of responsible dog ownership. Here’s what he had to say when we chatted with him.
MD: One of the big differences between being a sitting judge and an on-air judge is you can now voice your opinions. Is that as liberating as it sounds like it would be?
DY: It is incredibly liberating. Being a judge, one of the most frustrating things is yelling to yourself in the car when you see an injustice being done. If I saw someone mistreating an animal, I’d want to throw something at them, but as a judge you have to remain impartial. You could only show your disdain for what they had done after they’d been found guilty.
MD: Can you tell us about your friend Maggie?
DY: My partner Scott was running for judge. And he was invited to this event that was a fundraiser for the Humane Society/Adopt-a-Pet. There was a silent auction and I figured we’d bid on an item. You know, dinner at a restaurant… and all of a sudden, my friend walked by with this gorgeous little [dog] and said, “David I want you to meet Maggie.” Well, actually, it was Shelley at the time. And I said “Hi Shelley,” and she jumped right into my arms.
MD: So she picked you?
DY: Oh, she did. She is just so gorgeous. So I went to Scott and said: “This is our new dog.” And he said: “We’re not getting a dog.” I said: “You hold her and then tell me we’re not getting a dog.” So he held her and it was: “Okay, we’re bringing her home.”
The rest was history!
MD: Do you have a response for people who are in the market for a dog who claim they just don’t want to get a rescue?
DY: Yes, I do. Quit being such a snob. We should want to adopt an animal in need. And that’s the great thing about the Humane Society. We save dogs’ and cats’ lives. They need loving homes.
MD: What frustrates you the most about the law as it pertains to animals?
DY: The fact that they are considered property. Which I think is absurd.
MD: Is there anything that we can do to change that?
DY: There is: lobby the legislators.
MD: The issue of puppy mills is one that plagues us. What do you think needs to be done to stop them?
DY: First of all, we need to cut off the consumers. We need to make consumers aware of what they’re doing when they go into these pet stores. They say, oh I want a purebred. Well, contact the Humane Society and get on a waiting list.
MD: And there’s PetFinder.com as well. It’s amazing.
DY: It is.
MD: So your belief is that puppy mills must be stopped at the consumer level?
DY: Well, that’s point A. Point B would be to have local law enforcement take animal abuse seriously and launch investigations, to go into these puppy mills to shut them down. Arrest the owners. Make it a felony. And before the business is even open, it should have to meet certain codes and criteria. If the communities in which [these puppy mills] are in say “we’re not going to take this anymore,” they need to re-examine the zoning codes. That’s the third way we can deal with it.
MD: And the penalties themselves are currently quite pathetic.
DY: I agree.
MD: What case—either animal-related or human-related—are you most proud of, professionally?
DY: Probably America West pilots’ case [two pilots were convicted of trying to fly a plane while intoxicated]. That came at a time when people’s perception of the judicial system was at an all-time low thanks to OJ [the 1995 acquittal of OJ Simpson]. And by doing that, it helped restore confidence in the judiciary. And that’s what I’ve always been about.
MD: Did you ever think, when you were in law school, one day you’d be nominated for an Emmy?
DY: No. I really thought one day I’d be nominated for a Tony. But I wanted to be nominated for a Heisman Trophy. And that never happened, either.
MD: What’s your favourite Broadway musical?
DY: Oh, Gypsy. Without a doubt. Hands down. Patti LuPone was amazing. “I had a dream, a wonderful dream, baby…”
MD: And you have a dream too.
DY: I do! That all abandoned animals will be adopted into loving homes.