Developed byBarbara Hall Original language(s)English First episode date19 September 1999 NetworkCBS
Created byAmy Brenneman
Connie Tavel StarringAmy Brenneman
Richard T. Jones
Timothy Omundson CastAmy Brenneman, Tyne Daly, Richard T Jones, Karle Warren, Jessica Tuck
Judging Amy is an American legal drama television series that was telecast from September 19, 1999, through May 3, 2005, on CBS. This TV series starred Amy Brenneman and Tyne Daly. Its main character (Brenneman) is a judge who serves in a family court; in addition to the family-related cases that she adjudicates, many episodes focus on her experiences as a divorced mother and on the experiences of her mother, a social worker in the field of child welfare. This series was based on the life experiences of Brenneman's mother.
After six seasons, Judging Amy was canceled by CBS on May 18, 2005. In the United States, re-runs were telecast on the Turner Network Television cable TV channel for about four years, but the series was replaced by others in the schedule for the fall of 2007. Its final telecast was on August 31, 2007. Starting July 17, 2011 Up TV (formerly Gospel Music Channel) began telecasting the show, starting with the pilot episode. Up TV aired the show with edits to some of the language, certain scenes blurred or edited out, out of order, and some episodes missing. In February 2016, Up TV stopped airing the show on a regular basis.
Amy Gray (Brenneman), a New York attorney, separates from her husband and returns with her young daughter to her childhood home in Hartford, Connecticut. She becomes a judge on Connecticut's family court at age 34 and gets a divorce. Her mother, Maxine Gray (Daly), with whom Amy lives, is a caseworker for the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. In the de facto series finale (the series was canceled after the conclusion of the season), Amy quits the judiciary to run for the U.S. Senate.
Several reviewers have suggested the show took inspiration from the formula established by Providence. Reviewers also cite the relationship between Brenneman and Daly's characters as the selling point of the show.
Amy Gray makes reference to Providence in episode 3.18, "The Justice League of America". In this episode, Amy is attending her Harvard Law School class' tenth reunion, and her old friends cannot seem to remember Amy has moved to Hartford. They think she resides in Providence. Finally, Amy is pushed to state, "It's Hartford, David. Providence is a whole other universe."
Judge Amy Madison Gray, played by Amy Brenneman: After separating from her husband, Amy Gray returns to her childhood home with her daughter, becomes a judge on Connecticut's family court, gets a divorce, and tries to get on with her life. Balancing her new job, her family, and trying to rebuild her love life is not easy, but she keeps trying. She makes a name for herself in family court for her unusual methods and sentences and her stubbornness, which sometimes gets her in trouble. She dates several men. Her longest and more serious relationships are with lawyer Stuart Collins and David McClaren. Amy and Stuart dislike each other at first, but when she asks him to be Eric Black's lawyer, they get closer and eventually get engaged. However, Amy leaves him at the altar on their wedding day, saying he has a way of always convincing her to do things she does not want to do, calling him "a bully". She meets David McClaren during her short stint in the criminal court, and things are rocky from the start. Amy becomes pregnant by him and they plan to marry, but things fall apart when she miscarries and they part ways soon thereafter. In the last episode of the series, she quits the judiciary to run for Senate, to try to prevent the passage of a law that will effectively end the juvenile justice system by allowing the State's Attorney's office to try teenagers as adults at their own discretion. Amy's often complicated and ever changing definition of a relationship with her Court Services Officer, Bruce Van Exel, whom she calls her "best friend" and with whom she's shared intimate moments – despite his refusal to date white women, ends with him coming to be with her in Washington as she testifies at a Senate Hearing.
Maxine McCarty Gray, played by Tyne Daly, is Amy's widowed mother. A social worker for the Department of Children and Families, she had retired, but she returns to the job at the start of the series. She is willing to do whatever it takes to help the children in her care, even bending the law. She is an opinionated, strong-willed woman, very set in her ways, and capable of holding long grudges (she has not spoken to her brother in over 12 years), but loving to her family. Her relationship with daughter Amy is often not easy, since they are so much alike. After a troubled courtship, she becomes engaged to a wealthy businessman, Jared Duff, but he dies 48 hours before their wedding (a storyline twist necessitated by the unexpected death of the actor Richard Crenna, who played the character). She later becomes involved in a very complicated, on again off again relationship to her landscape designer Ignacio Messina. She has two heart attacks in the last season and has to undergo open heart surgery, but makes certain lifestyle changes and recovers well. At the end of the series she accepts Ignacio's marriage proposal and is set to retire again, becoming a foster parent to the last child she helped.
Vincent Gray played by Dan Futterman, is Amy's gifted younger brother, with whom she has always been closest. Vincent is the winner of a Pushcart Prize during college, but then went on a backpack tour of Europe because he was overwhelmed with the expectations for success. He later writes a novel titled A Fortunate Son, about a Rabbi and his son. He sells the rights to this book to a movie company, who he says are going to turn the Rabbi and other characters into Walkens. He's torn about giving up his characters and turns to his sister Amy, who advises him to "take the money and run", given that he is about to move to San Francisco with his new wife. He later gets a deal for a collection of short stories, but is unable to meet the deadline after the emotional stress of his divorce and he had to give back the considerable advance ($15,000) that he was paid. At the beginning of the series, he is roommates with a man whom he owns a dog washing business with. When his roommate gets married, he becomes roommates with Donna, with whom later he becomes best friends. As he attempts to continue his writing career, he holds a number of jobs: dogwasher, reporter, and free-lancer. He eventually marries his girlfriend, Carole Tobey (Sara Mornell), who has breast cancer, and leaves with her for San Francisco. The impending move causes Amy to become angry with Vincent, but when Amy finds out about Carole's breast cancer, she makes amends with him, gives him legal advice on his movie deal – even giving him the family's good luck talisman "the Surfing Monkey" at the airport. He comes home briefly when his mother calls and asks him to come home and help Maxine and Amy patch things up – as a fight has resulted in Amy moving out with extreme tension existing between mother and daughter. Because of Vincent's visit, Amy buys the family home, Maxine becomes a renter, and the family is put back together. Sometime later, his cousin Kyle arranges for him to arrive as a surprise to Amy's wedding to Stuart Collins. The wedding never happens. He returns home permanently soon after, explaining that Carole has left him for her oncologist. He later explains that this was because he couldn't "be there" for her in the way that she needed him to be while her doctor could. Stuck after his book deal is cancelled and he is in debt to the publishing company, he starts driving for the Department of Social Services, then gets a job at a teen center. When a teen is shot in front of him, his boss goes on a bender and realizes she's "addicted" to Vincent and gets him a job teaching writing at a Maximum Security Detention Center. Vincent seems to attract back luck – he gets shot while helping a woman being mugged in a grocery store parking lot, then later gets blown up and loses his ability to walk and read.
Peter Gray, played by Marcus Giamatti, is Amy's older brother. He inherited the family business from his father and he is good at it, even if he wasn't given a choice. He is a good man who sometimes surprises people with some outbursts. He and his wife Gillian have been trying to start a family for several years, but their inability to have children of their own leads to them pursuing adoption. Through their adoption agency, they are chosen by a pregnant woman named Evie as adoptive parents to her baby. She gives birth to a boy who Peter and Gillian name Edward, after Peter's late father, but call him Ned for short. Shortly after Ned's adoption is completed, Evie returns and reclaims her son after Ned's biological father reemerges, but ends up returning him to Peter and Gillian after her arrangements don't work out. Sometime after adopting Ned, Gillian gets pregnant and gives birth to another son, Walt. Things get rocky after Walt's birth and they separate for a while, even dating other people. Peter goes through a "rebellion" phase, trying to recall his teenage dreams, until he finds out his business is almost bankrupt. Soon after, he reconciles with his wife.
Gillian Gray, played by Jessica Tuck, is Peter's wife. A high strung controlling woman with a good heart, she completely loves her husband. She is usually well-meaning, but also often obsessive and nerve-wracking. After being unable to get pregnant, they adopt baby Ned. Sometime later, however, she gets pregnant, but things go wrong during the delivery of Walt, and she falls into a coma for a while. She and Peter have problems soon after (and she dates another man) but they reconcile.
Lauren Cassidy, played by Karle Warren, is Amy's daughter, six years old at the start of the series. A mostly well-adjusted girl, she is going through the pains of childhood and preadolescence with divorced parents, but a loving family. She struggles over her father's relationship with Leesha, whom she likes at first. When Lauren is 12, her uncle Peter takes her for her haircut and she returns home with her long straight hair cut into a hipper, shoulder-length cut. Her boyfriend Victor turns out to be the son of her mother's boyfriend, David McClaren, which causes Lauren to feel awkward and disgusted. When Amy becomes pregnant with David's child, Lauren reveals what a total blow to her social life this will be and is furious. She later becomes accepting and supporting of her mother after she miscarries. Toward the end of the series, Lauren begins to hang out with a group of friends who embrace the straight edge culture, which puts her at odds with her mother.
Kyle McCarty played by Kevin Rahm, is Amy's cousin, the son of Maxine's estranged brother Richard (William Devane). He is a former medical student who was expelled because he was addicted to Dilaudid. Shunning his father, he comes to his aunt Maxine for help. She gives him a home and gets him a job as a counselor at a facility for runaway teens. He later moves in to share a flat with Donna after Vincent leaves and finds a hospital willing to give him a new chance to finish his medical residency, and gets into a complicated on/off relationship with fellow doctor Heather Labonte, as well as fighting an attraction to his supervisor, Dr. Lily Reddicker. After his father dies, he quits his job and finds a new path in life as a medic with the SWAT unit. He finally decides to accompany his ex-girlfriend Heather to Minnesota and take care of their son while she is in rehabilitation.
Bruce Calvin van Exel, played by Richard T. Jones, is Amy's court services officer, who becomes her friend. The series addresses a number of issues of their cross-racial friendship and how each feels about it. Bruce is a stubborn man with strong convictions, whose advice Amy comes to find invaluable. He has a daughter, Rebecca, whose mother breaks up with him after he gives her an ultimatum to get married after they've lived together for years. At one point, Bruce is suspended from work for punching a man. He performs community service in a soup kitchen before returning to work with Amy. He is a fairly devout Catholic and not thrilled when his sister Winnie takes Rebecca to her more traditional black church with 'more interesting prayers'. Rebecca and Lauren attend the same middle school. In the second-to-last episode, he quits his job to complete his master's degree in family counselling, something he always wanted to do. The attraction between Amy and him is sometimes acknowledged, but never really explored until he comes to be by her side at the end of the series. "You came" "you called" and they hold hands.
Donna Kozlowski played by Jillian Armenante, is Amy's clerk. An eccentric woman, she is from a wealthy family, but estranged from them. Donna is a genius (she finishes her law degree in one and a half years) and socially awkward. She is married to a convicted murderer, Oscar Ray Pant, and becomes roommates with Amy's brother Vincent. While living with him, she has a daughter by Oscar, Ariadne Gray Pant, to whom she gives birth in a plastic pool in Amy's living room. Her mother arrives while Donna is in the pool, but is unable to offer her support and leaves. Maxine ends up getting in the pool with Donna. Later, Oscar confesses to Donna that he is really guilty and she divorces him. Upon passing the bar examination, Amy fires her so she would go to work as a lawyer; she becomes a court-appointed minor counsel for the Hartford Youth Advocates, whose office is across the hall from Amy's.
Sean Potter, played by Timothy Omundson, is Maxine's boss and later friend, who has his hands full dealing with Maxine's unorthodox methods. Initially a bit green in his supervisory role, he loosens up over time after his exposure to and friendship with Maxine. Sean and Bruce become friends and work together to establish alternative treatment programs for youthful offenders (such as "Gun 101"), and Sean is revealed in one episode as an avid karaoke singer, which comes in handy for entertaining the guests at Amy's and Stuart's wedding (which does not quite come off). Sean is also revealed to have come from a rich family, had attended expensive private school, and one time attempts to establish a scholarship fund in honor of his grandfather but the fundraiser doesn't work. Sean also dates Courtney Messina, the daughter of Maxine's beau, Ignacio, for a while, entertaining her elderly grandmother with a rendition of "Vaya con Dios".
Eric Black, played by Blake Bashoff, is a gay teenager who had been so badly abused that he was blind for two years. When all else fails, Maxine reluctantly takes him into her home, where he rapidly bonds with the family; afterwards, Sean becomes his foster father. Eventually, Eric protectively confronts and kills a stalker after Amy and Lauren. He is tried and found not guilty, but does so by lying on the witness stand. Maxine is disappointed in him, so he decides to move to Canada with his boyfriend, Mark.
Dr. Lily Reddicker, played by Kristin Lehman is the hospital chief of staff who takes a chance by hiring Amy's cousin Kyle. She is a no-nonsense supervisor who recognizes Kyle's superb medical skills and his need to return to medicine, which he tries to hide behind a sarcastic view of the world. She fights an attraction to Kyle because of their professional relationship and her fears that pursuing it create problems for Kyle because of his addiction problems. Kyle soon becomes troubled by his attraction to both Dr. Lily and a fellow resident, Heather Labonte.
Heather Labonte, played by Sarah Danielle Madison, is a doctor at Kyle's hospital with a substance abuse problem, who gets busted with a drug test and then gets a job as a bartender, which she says is a better job with better pay. She has an on/off relationship with Kyle, until she gets pregnant. Kyle doesn't believe she was pregnant, and claims he even visited her father who also said there was no baby. When Heather returns and tells Kyle she is going into rehab and the baby would be staying with her sister, he still doesn't believe her – until his Aunt Maxine literally beats on his chest and yells at him "don't you dare abandon your son!" and, after apologizing, reminds him that the best decisions aren't the easy ones. As a result, Kyle decides to accompany Heather to Minnesota and take care of their son while she is in rehabilitation.
Louann "Crystal" Turner, played by Jennifer Esposito, is a former meth addict who runs an outreach program for homeless teenagers. She had a relationship with Vincent and worked with him until they witness a young prostitute get murdered. She goes on a bender and tries to seduce Vincent. When she gets sober, she realizes they can't work together and she arranges for him to work at a youth detention center to teach a creative writing class.
Graciela Reyes, played by Tara Correa-McMullen, is a gang member Amy counsels. As time passes, she makes progress, though she is arrested one day for murder, as she was in the car with her cousin when she was involved in a drive-by shooting. Graciela is tried and found guilty as an adult because of a cousin's lies on the witness stand, and thus being sent to adult prison. The cousin later recants, but Graciela is murdered in a gang retaliation before Amy can get her out of prison.
Rob Holbrook, played by Jim Parsons, is a young clerk hired by Amy to replace Donna after her departure. Innocent and extremely eager to please, he proves his worth when his knowledge of Spanish comes into play in a case. Later, when Amy is banned from Graciela's trial, he goes in her stead and reports back to her all that happens. He enjoys cake and playing ball.
Courtney Messina, played by Jossara Jinaro, is Ignacio Messina's (Cheech Marin) daughter and Sean Potter's (Timothy Omundson) girlfriend.
Amy's love interests
Michael Cassidy (John Slattery, Richard Burgi) is Amy's ex-husband. He divorced Amy and married a woman named Leesha, who was younger and blonder than Amy. Michael tried to obtain full custody of Lauren, hoping his daughter would help him to mend his second marriage. He dropped the case when Leesha left him. He told Amy, though he stood by what he said about her in court, she was still a better parent than he.
Rob Meltzer (Tom Welling) is Lauren's karate teacher, with whom Amy had a short fling. She dumped him for Tom Gillette, but later went back to Rob.
Tom Gillette (Gregory Harrison) lasted only four episodes, as Tom left Amy so he could return to his estranged wife.
Barry Krumble (Chris Sarandon) is a fellow judge, whom Amy dated briefly. He "saved" her from embarrassment at her 10-year college reunion, but the relationship fizzled out when she realized they were not meant for each other because he could not "live in the moment" the way she did.
Stuart Collins (Reed Diamond) is a lawyer who, after several on/offs, became engaged to Amy. They rekindled their relationship when she asked him to be Eric Black's lawyer, but she ended the relationship by leaving him at the altar. Six months later, she learned he had married a 22-year-old Polynesian woman whom he met on the trip that was supposed to have been their honeymoon.
David McClaren (Adrian Pasdar) is a widowed assistant state's attorney and the father of Lauren's boyfriend, Victor. His relationship with Amy was rocky from the beginning, as he was still dealing with his wife's murder. He attended victims' support group meetings, one of which he asked Amy to attend. Amy became pregnant by him, and they planned to buy a house together. Amy had a miscarriage and, in her grief, kept David at a distance. This resulted in him breaking up with her.
Maxine's love interests
Jared Duff (Richard Crenna) is a wealthy businessman who met Maxine at a local diner, which he later purchased for her. Things between them became rocky several times, once because of his son's opposition to the relationship. They became engaged in 2003, but Jared died two days before the wedding.
Ignacio Messina (Cheech Marin) is the landscape designer whom Maxine hired to work on her garden. The two became close, but Maxine learned he was not legally divorced from his wife and he had two children: Courtney Messina (Jossara Jinaro) and Raul Messina (Tito Ortiz). Ignacio's mother hated Maxine, which she found extremely funny. Maxine refused to date him when she learned his divorce wasn't final. They continued their friendship bound by a complicated set of rules Maxine established to prove they weren't dating. He remained very supportive during Maxine's health problems. When his divorce became final, they began dating again in a complicated relationship. At one point Maxine thought they were getting too close and she actually gave him away to her friend Patsy. She later regretted it and asked Ignacio to dump Patsy. He refuses to live by Maxine's ever changing rules and confronts her with a marriage proposal as a solution, which she accepts.
Murdered cast member
On October 21, 2005, 16-year-old Tara Correa-McMullen (who played Graciela Reyes in the show) was shot to death outside an apartment complex in Inglewood, California. Suspected gang member Damien Watts, 20, was charged with her murder on March 1, 2006; he was convicted on January 23, 2009. When charged, Watts was in custody for a separate shooting. Watts was sentenced on February 27, 2009 to life imprisonment, with no chance of parole.
Judging Amy takes place in Hartford, Connecticut. Although the show often shows the Hartford Judicial District Court as having the address of 1265 (street unknown), the actual address of the Hartford Judicial District is 95 Washington Street, family matters are heard on 90 Washington Street and the Superior Court Juvenile Matters of Hartford is in 920 Broad Street, Hartford, CT 06106.
Judging Amy is broadcast in Australia on channels ELEVEN and 111 Hits and in New Zealand on Prime. In Canada, the show aired on channel Séries+. Ireland's TV3 carried the show, as did UK stations Living TV, Hallmark, Channel 4, and CBS Drama, Israel's YES Base Channel also carries the show.