Joseph Albert Wapner (b. November 15, 1919) is a former American judge and TV personality of the real-life courtroom-style show The People's Court, which ran in syndication from 1981 to 1993 for 2,484 episodes.
On The People's Court, Wapner mediated a binding arbitration which was set up to resemble a small claims court by pitting parties, without lawyers, against each other. The legacy of the show's high popularity has led to myriad other similar syndicated shows such as Judge Judy and Judge Joe Brown among others.
Five years after The People's Court ended its original run, Wapner starred on cable channel Animal Planet's Judge Wapner's Animal Court, presiding over real cases involving or about animals. This lasted from 1998 to 2000. He also made an appearance in the pilot episode of Sliders, playing himself (as "Commissar Wapner") in a Parallel Earth in which the Soviet Union conquered the United States; Officer Rusty Burrell and Doug Llewelyn also appeared in the episode.