Circuit Judge Mary Ann Gunn of Fayetteville, who’s made headlines because of some controversy over televising her drug court, submitted her resignation today to Gov. Mike Beebe, effective June 11.
An ethics advisory panel had objected strongly to Gunn’s idea of working to make a reality TV program from her court sessions, which appear on local access TV in heavily produced episodes.
A Supreme Court committee is considering her commercial proposal and she said recently she was considering resigning from the postion.
She was featured recently in an admiring documentary that aired on AETN.
She released a statement about resignation saying she intended to pursue other ways of working with drug court. I'm hoping to talk to her about whether this means continued pursuit of the commercial TV project built on her public work.
UPDATE: Question answered. Trifecta Entertainment already has her slotted for a reality TV drug court show to begin in the fall. The promo:
Last Shot with Judge Gunn
After five successful years of changing lives in her courtroom on local TV, Judge Mary Ann Gunn's unique and special brand of justice is now coming to a nationally syndicated audience. Presiding over the most successful drug court program in America, this compassionate yet no-nonsense judge rules her court with a hand of steel and a heart that will never give up. Unlike any existing court show on television, this half-hour strip goes inside an actual working courtroom of a judge who gives recent drug offenders an alternative to prison...and one LAST SHOT at redemption.
Does this mean she's selling shows filmed in an Arkansas courtroom for her profit? Sure sounds like it. Smelly. Very smelly. But, since she's no longer a judge, there's no ethical recourse against her. However,, perhaps they are filming new shows, though where she'll get the clientele and how she could be set up as a real court with a real hammer over defendants are questions to be answered. If she has struck a deal with public agencies to divert people to her for-profit TV court, I hope some public discussion is held in Washington County before that moves forward.
If this is really about public service — not money and ego — Gunn could have served that by getting her publicly financed job done quietly and efficiently and without regard to how much air time it won her.
Raising a glass up here in the hills! Great work Arkansas Public Law Center.
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I love to see Republicans fighting amongst themselves.