Judge Greg Mathis has established himself as one of America’s most outspoken and opinionated TV arbiters— and these characteristics are evident both inside his TV courtroom and beyond.
These qualities, along with the engaging cases presented before him, have contributed to the success of his highly rated reality-based court TV show Judge Mathis, which returned to TV last Monday, marking the premiere of its 15th season. As a TV judge, he is still going strong.
Since the show’s inception, Judge Mathis has publicly handled TV cases that reflect some of society’s most pressing and prevalent issues. Among the issues the show tackles are neighbor relationships, property disputes, thefts of services, paternity claims and even broken promises.
Along the way, Mathis has shared his insight, which oftentimes is inspired from some of the cases he ruled on before retiring as a judge in Michigan’s 36th District court.
Yet, through it all, he says that it is his ability to relate to all sectors of society that contributes to the show’s effectiveness and success.
“To all the folks living in poverty and drug and crime-infested communities, that was me as well, so I have lived all the lives of the people who come before me,” Mathis told theGrio. “I can relate to them. I can speak their language. “
The justice system is ‘oppressive towards black men’
After overcoming the many hardships and adversities he faced growing up, Mathis worked his way through the political and justice systems to become highly regarded as a TV Jurist. The court show has won an NAACP Image award as well as a PRISM commendation for its inspirational and positive messages.
As a teenager, he overcame being held in juvenile detention for gang activities, and along the way he says he has endured enough experiences to expose some of the downfalls of a system he believes is oppressive towards black men.
“You know we talk about the criminal justice system and in many ways I think it is criminal in and of itself,” he said. “Being from the inside and the outside, I have the observation that the justice system, throughout our journey, has been used as a tool of oppression.”
“We find that we have a system where we fail to educate African-American men and we remove the jobs from their community and replace the jobs with guns and drugs and a failed education system and what we’re seeing now is the majority of our prison population is made up of African-American men,” he added.
Mathis’ comments echo the sentiments of many in the black community who have criticized the justice system for what they believe to be improper and unjust applications of the law, especially in regards to black men.
Judge Mathis on the George Zimmerman case
The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin is still fresh in the minds of many African-Americans, including Judge Mathis.
“I believe that [Martin] was stalked and murdered and the type of murder I believe was manslaughter,” Mathis told theGrio. “My observation is that Zimmerman was guilty of first-degree murder, I believe he was guilty of manslaughter and that is the use of a weapon resulting in the death of Trayvon Martin – and he had no legitimate self-defense claim. That’s my assessment.”
Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter relating to Martin’s death. His defense team argued that Martin was the aggressor in their altercation, and that Zimmerman shot the unarmed teen in self-defense.
In the aftermath of the controversial verdict, Mathis has collaborated with Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, in planning a fundraiser for the Trayvon Martin Foundation.