'Judge Judy' suing National Enquirer owner over Menéndez brothers article

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"Judge Judy" Sheindlin is suing Accelerate360, the parent company of the National Enquirer and InTouch Weekly, for defamation regarding an article she said falsely claimed she sought a new trial for the Menéndez brothers.

Sheindlin is seeking a jury trial and unspecified “general and special damages," according to the 60-page suit filed by California attorney Eric M. George on Monday in the Collier County, Florida Circuit Court.

"When you fabricate stories about me in order to make money for yourselves with no regard for the truth or the reputation I’ve spent a lifetime cultivating, it’s going to cost you," Judge Judy told Deadline on Monday morning. "When you’ve done it multiple times, it’s unconscionable and will be expensive. It has to be expensive so that you will stop."

The article published by Accelerate360 on April 10 titled "Inside Judge Judy’s Quest to Save the Menendez Brothers Nearly 35 Years After Their Parents’ Murder” claims Sheindlin believed Lyle and Erik Menéndez did not receive fair due process during their second murder trial in 1996, the complaint obtained by USA TODAY says.

The National Enquirer also ran the story on the front page of its print and digital editions, according to the suit.

USA TODAY contacted Accelerate360 and Sheindlin's reps on Tuesday but did not receive a response.

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How are the Menéndez brothers, Judge Judy connected?

Erik Menendez and his brother, Lyle Menendez, were convicted in 1996 of fatally shooting their rich parents in a Beverly Hills mansion. The brothers shot their father, José, a wealthy entertainment executive, and their mother, Kitty, a socialite, at point-blank range with a shotgun in 1989. The pair were arrested months later after one of the brothers allegedly confessed to a psychologist and the other threatened to kill the doctor.

The Menéndez brothers' case became must-see TV as their initial trial ended in a mistrial and their second led to the conviction. The brothers were sentenced to life in prison after prosecutors proved that the two committed the murders to gain access to their parent's fortune.

The article published by the National Enquirer and InTouch Weekly included comments from a FOX Nation docuseries made by "Judi Ramos," which the show identified as a woman who was an alternate juror in the initial Menéndez trial, according to the suit. Sheindlin claims the outlets misattributed Ramos' comments to her, the complaint continued.

"It entirely misquoted its source material, which identified the speaker of the challenged statements by name—an individual identified onscreen in the docuseries as ‘Judi Zamos,’ and as an ‘Alternate Juror, First Trial,’” according to the suit. “Judge Sheindlin has never gone by the name Judi Zamos, nor was she an alternate juror in the Menendez trial.”

This 1992 file photo shows double murder defendants Erik (R) and Lyle Menendez (L) during a court appearance in Los Angeles, Ca.
This 1992 file photo shows double murder defendants Erik (R) and Lyle Menendez (L) during a court appearance in Los Angeles, Ca.

National Enquirer's, InTouch Weekly's article is 'tarnishing' Judge Judy's reputation

The article can no longer be found on the National Enquirer's and InTouch Weekly's websites because the outlets removed the story on April 10, the complaint reported. However, it still appears in the Internet search engine results and the News Break account run by Accelerate360, according to the suit.

“By tarnishing (Sheindlin's) reputation as a fair-minded and good judge of character and facts, (Accelerate360's) lies have injured (Sheindlin) by deterring viewers from watching her shows,” the suit says. “These lies have injured and, as they continue to circulate, continue to and will injure, (Sheindlin) by discouraging parties from bringing their disputes before her."

National Enquirer published that Judy Judy had Alzheimer's disease

Sheindlin, who hosted the syndicated "Judge Judy" through 2021 and now hosts "Judy Justice," had past issues with the National Enquirer.

The news outlet retracted articles and apologized in 2017 after they falsely claimed Sheindlin cheated on her husband and suffered from Alzheimer's disease and depression, the complaint says.

Contributing: Christal Hayes, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Judge Judy' files defamation lawsuit over Menéndez brothers article