When Amazon's IMDb TV released the first trailer for Judge Judy Sheindlin's new series Judy Justice, fans were shocked to see that she had a new bailiff, Kevin Rasco. During the entire run of Judge Judy, Petri Hawkins Byrd served as Sheindlin's bailiff, so many expected him to return. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Byrd revealed that Sheindlin did not even ask him to join the new series.
Byrd said he was completely left out of discussions for Judy Justice, which will debut on IMDb TV on Nov. 1. He did not even know about Sheindlin's plans to start a new courtroom show until she announced it on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in March 2020. When filming started on the final season of Judge Judy, Byrd never had a chance to bring up the show with Sheindlin because she filmed remotely from New York while he and everyone else worked in Los Angeles.
"My assumption is if you were going on to do something else, that you were at least going to ask me if I wanted to have the opportunity to audition for the role," Byrd told Entertainment Weekly Friday. Once Judge Judy production finished in April, Byrd completely devoted his attention to his wife, Judge Judy producer Makita Bond-Byrd, who was scheduled for brain surgery. Thankfully, doctors successfully removed 95% of Bond-Byrd's tumor.
"I didn't have time to think about or ask about Judy Justice," Byrd explained. "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?'" Sheindlin told Byrd he was not being asked to join the Judy Justice cast. He didn't press her as to why, but she blamed the budget. "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," Byrd told EW.
"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." Byrd said his wife was approached to work on Judy Justice, but she had to turn the project down because of her health.
His call with Sheindlin "ended pleasantly enough," Byrd said, adding that he wasn't sure she understood how "confused and dismayed" he was about not being given a chance to join her new project after working with her for 25 years. Byrd told EW he was humbled by the fan reaction to him missing from Judy Justice. He is now focused on finding his next job, following voiceover work and appearing on The Bold and the Beautiful.
"I'm like if I did something wrong or offended you or brought shame to the show, or if was involved in numerous scandals in the 25 years we were together, I might understand why you didn't want to bother in the end," Byrd told EW. "That's just the way it went. I just know that God has something else for me."
As for Sheindlin, she praised Byrd through a spokesperson but noted that Judy Justice is intended to have a different feeling from Judge Judy. "Byrd is terrific and we had a great 25-year run. This is a whole new program with a whole new cast and an exciting energy," Sheindlin's spokesperson said. In addition to Rasco, Judy Justice also features Sheindlin's granddaughter Sarah Rose as the courtroom's law clerk and stenographer Whitney Kumar.