Waterville assault case featured in first-ever segment on “Judge Judy Primetime”

Jibryne Karter wasn’t expecting it in the least when on Jan. 25 of this year Bruce Liberty, a customer at the Waterville bar run by his family, came up to him and punched him in the face.

“I had no warning. I wasn’t doing anything,” said Karter. “Then all of a sudden he punched me.”

Karter, who’s father owns the Bob In Bar & Lounge, a longtime Waterville nightlife spot, pressed charges against Liberty, who claimed he was defending his girlfriend, Lindsay Doyle, from Karter’s unwanted advances. Kennebec County courts dropped the charges, but Karter did not want to let Liberty off so easily.

He took his case to the highest court in the land — well, in TV land, to be exact. He took it to Judge Judy.

Karter, son of Bob In proprietor Gubby Karter, submitted the details of his case via the Judge Judy website, and to his surprise, they got in touch with him and with Liberty a few weeks later. Both parties must agree to appear on the show and accept whatever judgement Judge Judy — the Hon. Judith Sheindlin, the reigning ruler of daytime TV — lays down. In April, both plaintiff and defendant were flown to California to tape their episode.

To Karter’s surprise, his case not only aired on TV — it aired as they very first segment of the very first episode of a new Judge Judy special, “Judge Judy Primetime,” an hour-long special that aired for the first time on Tuesday, May 20 on CBS. “Judge Judy” has been the top daytime courtroom program since its debut in 1996 and has since grown to become a global hit, airing in over 125 countries around the world. Sheindlin is beloved for her tough-talking, no-nonsense attitude.

Judge Sheindlin ruled in favor of Karter, who had a secret weapon in his defense of his case — some surveillance footage from the night of the assault, which clearly shows Liberty assaulting Karter. It also didn’t help that both Liberty and Doyle had some major discrepancies in their respective stories, a fact that that Judge Judy took great pains to point out.

“The thing about Judge Judy is that you just have to be honest, and you can’t B.S. her,” said Karter. “If you tell the truth, she’s actually very nice.”

Judge Judy and baliff Petri Hawkins ByrdKarter was awarded $5,000. What he really says he wanted, however, was to point out that it’s not OK to resort to violence, and that his family’s bar — which he admits has gotten a bad reputation over the years for bar fights — will no longer tolerate fighting.

“The Bob In’s gotten a bad rep over the years, but I wanted to make a statement that we are not going to tolerate that anymore, and we are going to hold people accountable for their actions,” said Karter. “You can’t just hit people and get away with it.”

That $5,000 and the all-expenses-paid trip to California to tape the episode didn’t hurt either, when it came to the decision to take his case to TV.

“They treat you pretty well at ‘Judge Judy,’” said Karter. “I’ve been asked by people everywhere I go — at the dental office, at my credit union — ‘Hey, aren’t you that guy that was on ‘Judge Judy’? It’s been really cool.”

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, a UMaine graduate, a proud Bangorian and an arts and lifestyle writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food, from media and the Internet to theater and dance. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra, to name just a few. She's interested in everything -- especially if it happens in Maine. She welcomes any and all feedback or suggestions for stories.