In the reality courtroom show business, only Judith Sheindlin’s Judge Judy comes before that of retired Michigan 36th District Court judge, Greg Mathis’ Judge Mathis. The former juvenile delinquent judge was able to fashion out a career for himself as a Daytime Emmy Award-winning arbiter after first becoming the youngest person in Michigan to be named a district judge.
As of September 2018, the syndicated Judge Mathis show which adjudicates small claims disputes, entered its 20th season as the man in the robe continues to be a prominent leader within the Black American community through various other works.
Judge Mathis was born Gregory Ellis Mathis, the last of four boys to Alice Lee and Charles Mathis. His birth occurred on the 5th of April, 1960, in Detroit, Michigan. Following his parents’ divorce when he was still a toddler, Mathis was raised alone by his mother in the Herman Gardens housing projects. By the time Mathis was entering his teens, his mother moved away from the neighbourhood to shield her son from the growing gang violence in the area and drug use.
Unfortunately, the move came a little too late as he was already affiliated with notorious Detroit street gang Errol Flynns. As a teenager, Mathis became a full member of the gang and began to have a few run-ins with the law which led to his arrest and incarceration. While in jail, Mathis, who was about 17 years old, found out that his mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. Her condition, as well as good behaviour and other things, led to him being offered early probation to spend some time with his ailing mother.
Upon his release, Mathis took a job at McDonald’s before he was later able to gain admission into Eastern Michigan University. As a student at EMU – studying public administration, Mathis discovered his interest in politics and so became heavily invested in school political activities. He soon after began working for the Democratic Party as he organized and participated in several demonstrations against civil rights issues, both local and foreign ones such as South African Apartheid policies.
Judge Mathis went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration before finding employment at Detroit’s City Hall. A few years later, he returned to school, this time to the University of Detroit School of Law to study law. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1987 but was, however, denied a license to practice law due to his criminal past. This did not deter him from continuing to apply until he was eventually granted one. By 1995, Mathis was elected as the youngest district court judge ever in Michigan in the state’s 36th District.
Judge Mathis spent five years on the bench before retiring to launch his award-winning reality courtroom show while also doing some more activism acts, working as a motivational speaker, and authoring a number of publications.
Judge Mathis Family – Wife, Son, Daughter
Judge Mathis has been enjoying the pleasures of a blissful marriage since 1985. It was at this time that he exchanged marital vows with Linda Reese, the woman he refers to as his boss. Linda, who also attended Eastern Michigan University, met her future husband on campus in the early 80s, shortly after he lost his mother. They were able to forge a bond as she helped create a balance between his life in the public eye and at home as he became more invested in activism.
Shortly after their wedding, the couple welcomed their first child, a daughter named Jade, born in May 1985. Two years later, they had a second child, another daughter named Camara, born in October 1987. At their third try, the Mathis family welcomed a son named Greg Jr., born in January 1989. A year later, they had what turned out to be their last child, another son, Amir, born in July 1990.
Jade and Camara followed in their father’s footsteps to study law and are now both practising attorneys. In 2015, the older of the two girls was appointed Assistant States Attorney for Prince George County, Maryland. It is not clear what Greg Jr. is up to but his younger brother Amir, who has a bachelor’s degree from one of the top film school’s in the country, Columbia College Chicago, has a behind the scenes role on his father’s show.