*”Divorce Court” has moved on without Judge Mablean Ephriam, but she is set for a return to the small screen with her new show, “Justice With Judge Mablean” after an eight-year absence.
Chatting with Jetmag.com, Judge Mablean weighs in on her new series, the motivation for participating in Bill Duke’s “Dark Girls” documentary, legal advice for celebrities and the grand jury’s decision to not indict Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
Highlights from the interview are below:
JET: Returning to the on-air courtroom after eight years, what is refreshing about this experience and what is your approach to the new series, “Justice With Judge Mablean”?
Judge Mablean: What’s refreshing now is that I’m not limited to Family Law. Justice with Judge Mablean covers everything. It covers cases of unlawful termination of employment, discrimination on the job, civil harassment on the job. We’re dealing with various issues, which I am very happy about.
For instance a student who was suspended from his private catholic school because he wore his hair in what we call ‘locs’ but they said it was a disruptive hairstyle that caused people to want to pull and jerk on it so when his hair was pulled and jerked on, the school’s response was, ‘see, that’s the kind of hairstyle that’ll make people want to do that so therefore he shouldn’t wear it.’
Um, excuse me!?
Those are the cases I deal with. I deal with the case of the mother whose child is 13 and being wooed by an older woman and the young child is practicing lesbianism but the older woman is encouraging her not to practice it – that’s a different issue but she’s violating her mother’s rules. She’s leaving the house at night and going places she’s not supposed to go.
I don’t care what your sexual preference is but that’s your mother’s house, you have to follow the rules.
JET: Who do you think, in the entertainment industry, could use your legal advice right now? You know, give us some Judge Mablean realness!
Judge Mablean: What I would offer celebrities in all is that you hire these attorneys and you pay them all of this money, let them talk for you. Keep your big mouth closed! As the lay people, who are not familiar and don’t understand law, when I ask a question and I know something and have some facts, to you it’s just a question, you don’t know what loose ends or holes I’m trying to close up by your answer. It’s better for you to be quiet. (laughs) Just because somebody talks about you, doesn’t mean you have to respond.
JET: You’re also a part of Bill Duke’s book,” Dark Girls,” I’ve actually watched the documentary recently and found the stories captured and shared quite intriguing. What intrigued you about the project and made you want to get involved?
Judge Mablean: To tell you the whole truth, it was Bill Duke! (Laughs). It was Bill Duke asking me to participate in one of his projects. The legendary Bill Duke. And secondly, I always liked his work because it’s always informative and helpful to people. And I know, because I do this on my show, often as a dark girl, I know what I suffered and how it affected me in my life growing up and if I can shed some light on that, to cause people from continuing that misconduct and emotional damage to people, then yes, I want to be a part of that. If I can help some other person realize their beauty despite their darkness, then I want to be a part of that. There was a young lady on “Justice with Judge Mablean” that said she just didn’t like herself and she was trying to get all types of stuff done to her face because she was dark skinned. She just hated her image and I just told her look at me because I look a lot like you, learn to love yourself and love the skin you’re in. I want to be a part of anything that sends positive messages and helps to uplift.
JET: Because you are so knowledgeable about the law, I have to ask you about a headline that is of big concern to JET readers. With the non-indictment decision on Darren Wilson, what are your thoughts on Ferguson and where we go from here as a community?
Judge Mablean: I’m totally disappointed, but I’m not surprised. I told everyone that I knew what the decision was going to be the minute the prosecutor decided to do a grand jury. It’s really disheartening because I listened to that man very carefully because I didn’t have all the facts. I’m a former prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, on both sides and at no time did I hear him say that Michael Brown did something to cause that officer to bleed or had a reasonable belief that he was in fear of imminent danger to his life and that is the standard to determine what the use of force is. I also listened to him say that the questions they posed to the juror were “Who was the aggressor?” That is not the standard. That’s the standard for self-defense. There was no statement that Michael Brown had a gun. The only person that had a gun was Officer Wilson. So he shot him. Michael Brown is 100 feet away from you. Where’s the imminent danger? You never said there was a weapon of any kind. There was no evidence of that. All you had to do was stand right there until your backup came. You’re taught self-defense. You’re trained in protecting yourself and all you can use is a gun? No. Not justifiable. The grand jury, to me, did a terrible disservice. The only decision they had to make was “Is there enough evidence?” At the least they could have indicted him for involuntary manslaughter and allowed a jury trial. All I say to people is you better think long and think hard. Whatever color, if that were your child and an officer of the law saw him walking toward him, is it justifiable to shoot and kill him? Think about it. What that decision said to not only the Ferguson police department but for all is that “we’ve been vindicated. We can do it and there will be no consequences for our behavior.” Mandatory video cameras for police are a progressive start to a solution.
For more of Judge Mablean Ephriam’s interview, click over to Jetmag.com.