A television judge is not only upholding the law, he or she must also entertain the viewers. So the tv judge must create a consistant personality. For example, Judge Judy is know for her tough, no nonsense attitude. Besides a personality, the tv judge has to develop a story with a beginning, middle and an ending.
Judges in court have to get through cases represented by attorneys and the client's paperwork. They also have to make sure the acused's rights are being met. Depending on the judge's assignment, he or see may be hearing long or short cases.
Most court proceedings are open to the public. Call your local courthouse for their hearing schedule.
This is a great question as some people may believe that how judges act on TV are indicative of how judges act in real life!
"Reality" courtrooms create a false understanding and expectation of how judges behave. On TV, the judge is portrayed as someone who orders the parties to explain certain facts and then prematurely cuts off the person's explanation, sometimes even calling them names. Many times, TV judges jump to conclusions without hearing the story in its entirety. This type of behavior would not work well in a real courtroom because real judges encourage parties to provide full facts and evidence.
TV court shows tend to illustrate bench trials. A bench trial has no jury, and the judge is the one who decides the outcome of the case. While bench trials do exist beyond the realms of television, there are also jury trials. In a jury trial, the judge makes sure that the jury does not hear facts that would be prejudicial against the other party. Here's another way to think about it: going to court is like going to play a sport. The judge is the referee and makes sure that everyone in the sport is being fair and playing a clean game. As a referee, the judge is not biased and has no preference on who wins the game. It is the jury's decision to decide if a person is guilty or innocent. On TV, judges tend to give their opinion about the parties. In real life, judges do not give their opinion so they can avoid influencing the jury.
If you would like to see firsthand the judge's role, I encourage you to visit your local courthouse. The majority of trials are open to the public, so you can walk in and watch the trial!