JUDGE JUDY SHEINDLIN claims she has never filed a real life lawsuit – that is – UNTIL NOW!  And boy, is it getting UGLY!

CourtHouse News reported that in March, Judith Sheindlin, better known as the eponymous “Judge Judy” on the syndicated daytime TV court series sued John Haymond and his Haymond Law Firm, claiming they used her image without permission in a commercial for the firm

 Haymond fired back last month with a countersuit, claiming he had been asked to use the footage in the commercial by the stations that helped create it.   Haymond says in the countersuit that he's a "fan of the 'Judge Judy' television show" and was "happy" with the co-op advertising arrangement.

BUT in Judy’s original complaint, Sheindlin said she refrained for 18 years from personal endorsements.

In the suit, she claims that Haymond's "use of her likeness is particularly egregious and damaging because Sheindlin has deliberately chosen not to endorse any products or services unrelated to the 'Judge Judy' series."

But Haymond says that her claims are baseless, and Sheindlin "maliciously" defamed him through a statement issued by her PR firm in March.

In her public statement, Sheindlin stated, 'Over my 50-year career, first as a  family court prosecutor, then as a family court judge, and most recently as the presiding judge on "Judge Judy," I have never filed a lawsuit against anyone.

“However, the unauthorized use of my name, image and reputation by Mr. John Haymond is so outrageous that I feel it requires this action. Without my consent, Mr. Haymond has taken my name and image and used it in television and Internet advertisements to falsely suggest that I have endorsed his legal services. Mr. Haymond is a lawyer and should know better.'"

In one corner, Judge Judy seeks disgorgement of profits, an injunction against any more broadcasts, and punitive damages for false endorsement, deceptive trade, and misappropriation of her likeness and publicity rights.

In the countersuit, Haymond is asking for punitive damages, costs and attorneys' fees.

The whole legal brouhaha now goes before U.S. District Judge Michael Shea in in November.