04/21/2004 at 12:00 AM EDT
"The People's Court" Judge Jerry Sheindlin, 66, is putting down his gavel for good. The TV jurist has announced that he is retiring from the syndicated show. Starting in March, the new face behind the bench will belong to Miami Circuit Court Judge Marilyn Milian, 39, who originally hails from Queens, New York. An appointee of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, she resigned her post this week and will be the first female judge to preside on the show, which kicked off in 1981 with Joseph Wapner, who was then replaced by former New York mayor Ed Koch before Sheindlin took over. "These past two seasons have been a wonderful fantasy," said Sheindlin, who added: "Part of the adventure was trying to nip at the heels of my wife. Unfortunately, I could never catch up with her." Sheindlin is married to "Judge Judy" Sheindlin, 58, whose own TV courtroom show leads the field in the ratings.