Lucky letter landed Judge Judy’s bailiff a career in Hollywood

After witnessing 12,500 instances because the bailiff to TV’s Judge Judy, one in specific stands out for Petri Hawkins Byrd — one in a Manhattan courtroom 33 years in the past.

Byrd, then a real-life courtroom officer working in household courtroom shortly earlier than Christmas, noticed arguments over a 9-year-old boy named Harry, who tried to steal a bike on Staten Island and had nowhere to go.

“The solar had gone down. It was after 5 o’clock, we’re making an attempt to determine what to do with this boy,” Byrd recalled to The Post.

Byrd’s accomplice turned to him and stated, “You know what that child wants? You.”

“He’s a little black child. I’m the one different black particular person in the room,” stated Byrd, who was married with a 1-year-old son on the time.

After consultations among the many decide, attorneys and his supervisor, Byrd grew to become the kid’s momentary guardian. He took Harry to his Fort Greene condo the place he stayed for a few months till a member of the family got here ahead to take care of the boy.

“It labored out,” he stated. “It was simply a matter of me being in the proper place on the proper time.”

Petri Hawkins Byrd
Petri Hawkins ByrdGreg Doherty/Getty Images

Good timing additionally introduced Byrd, 62, his position on “Judge Judy,” which begins its 25th and closing season Monday. The show, which airs weekdays on CBS, averages 9 million viewers a day who tune in for Judith Sheindlin’s acerbic wit and biting feedback to a parade of plaintiffs.

The Brooklyn-born Byrd appreciated the sharp tongue of Sheindlin, who additionally hails from Brooklyn, when he was assigned to her Manhattan courtroom in the 1980s.

“The stuff that may fly out of her mouth was simply unbelievable,” he stated.

Byrd moved to Northern California together with his household in 1990, working first for the US Marshal Service after which as a highschool counselor. On a break in the future, he learn a gossip column merchandise about Sheindlin starring in a courtroom TV show and faxed her a congratulatory observe.

He closed it by writing “PS, If you ever want a bailiff, I nonetheless look good in uniform.”

Petri Hawkins Byrd
Petri Hawkins Byrd

Sheindlin known as a few weeks later telling him, “‘We do want a bailiff. We tried it with an actor throughout the pilot. It’s an unscripted show and he didn’t fairly know how one can maneuver with me,’” he recalled her saying.

Byrd was a hit with the decide, and with viewers. He typically stands quietly on the bench, calling instances, passing papers to Sheindlin and generally working a crossword puzzle.

“I don’t do a lot,” he stated. “They really pay me very handsomely for what I don’t do.”

He denied studies that he’s paid $1 million a yr.

As the plaintiffs hash out disputes over stolen cash, purloined pets and broken items, Byrd typically wonders what’s coming subsequent from the sharp-tongued jurist.

“I’m simply curious as to the place she’s going, what sensible comment or what ammunition goes to return out of her,” he stated.

Sheindlin instructed The Post she swears by her bailiff.

“Byrd and I’ve been in sync for 35 years. We get one another. It makes working collectively a pleasure,” she stated.

Byrd, who additionally does stand-up comedy and sings, isn’t certain what’s subsequent after this closing season wraps. He’s been doing a weekly show on Instagram together with his third spouse, Makita Bond, known as “Bonding with Byrd.”

Judge Judy and Petri Hawkins Byrd
Judge Judy and Petri Hawkins ByrdCraig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging

A graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Byrd stated he was at all times in the leisure area, however his mom inspired him to have a steadier job.

“It by no means actually got here to fruition till I wrote that fateful letter and answered that cellphone name that day from Judge Judy Sheindlin,” he stated. “I positively have her to thank for opening up doorways that I’d have thought have been closed to me.”



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