Since I haven't watched her in 3 years or so, I'll say that it's possible the show has changed. But when I watched, the show was about the cases, with colorful participants, and some "wise Latina" flavor from her. I contrast the show with Judge Judy, Texas Justice, Judge Joe Brown, etc., shows where the judge's personality is a good 50% of the show. But her job was (is, but I'm writing in past tense since I don't watch any more) to explain the legal thinking and why something is or isn't right based on the evidence she's given. And that always came through, no matter how colorful or odious a participant was. Of course, this illustration actually undermines my contention, but it's amusing and I remember when it aired.
I actually see her as bigger than The People's Court--I think any news organization would be well served by engaging her as a consumer affairs expert as an her entry into anchoring a news/talk show (I'm looking at you Good Morning America).
I only know about her actual background from reading her Wikipedia entry to write this: summa cum laude from University of Miami and Georgetown for law. She worked in courts in Miami-Dade county (seriously, it used to be Dade county, and they renamed it in 1997 because, um, Miami is known worldwide... I don't know either), and ultimately was a Florida state circuit judge. If I were to guess, I'd say it was a pretty reasonable career for a judge, but someone saw something in her personality and the rest is history.
CBS's The Early Show, you could do a lot worse.
Happy birthday dude! Rock on!