Judge Joseph Wapner, famous for presiding over The People's Court, died Sunday. He was 97.
Wapner's son, David, told The Associated Press his father, who was hospitalized a week ago, died in his sleep. Wapner was the original judge for The People's Court, staying with the program from 1981 until 1993 and inspiring the television judges who followed. A native of Los Angeles, Wapner was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1959 and the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1961. He retired in 1979, and was recommended for the show by a fellow judge. In 1986, Wapner told AP everything on The People's Court was real. "There's no script, no rehearsal, no retakes," he added. "Everything from beginning to end is like a real courtroom, and I personally consider each case as a trial."