Find out more →

Get unlimited access. Become a digital member!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Judicial ethics committee discourages TV show based on Hot Springs court

Posted By on Thu, May 2, 2013 at 3:39 PM

JUDGE RALPH OHM: First it was all about religion. Today, he got a negative response on cooperating with a commercial TV production.
  • JUDGE RALPH OHM: First it was all about religion. Today, he got a negative response on cooperating with a commercial TV production.
Given the ethical controversy that came with former Judge Mary Ann Gunn's use of her drug court as a springboard to commercial television, you'd think a judge wouldn't even ask.

District Judge Ralph Ohm of Hot Springs asked a Judicial Ethics Advisory opinion about whether the court could co-operate with a TV production company in producing a program, "profit based and perhaps syndicated," that would expand on a seven-minute trailer already produced. The judge and court personnel expected to payment from the show, they said. The trailer included excerpts from court sessions, interviews with district judges and court personnel and titles such as "America's Busiest District Court" and "Located in America's Most Dangerous City."

Writing for the committee, law professor Howard Brill went through the history of conflicts between judicial integrity and commercial TV productions and applicable rules on use of TV cameras in courtrooms (limited). Conclusion:

Although we are aware of the principle of open courts as well as the public awareness and understanding of the judicial system, we believe that our involvement with this project would cross a line. The proposal raises significant risks of impairing the prestige and dignity of the court, connects the court to an on-going commercial enterprise for entertainment, and raises the appearance of impropriety. ... This opinion discusses possible solutions and remedies. But in principle we conclude that participation with the television program proposal as set forth will be inconsisten with the administration of justice in the Arkansas courts and with the principles of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Problems cited included use of public facilities, titles that "may not be well received by the Hot Springs community"; informed consent by all who might be photographed and the question of compensation. On the last, the opinion said that while court personnel would not be paid, a broader issue remains about a rule prohibiting using "the prestige of judicial office to advance the personal or economi interests of the judge or others, or allow others to do so." Taping of TV proceedings would appear to violate this rule.

Here's the full opinion. It might be good if similar attention could be given to Ohm's use of the court for directing defendants to religious programs. (Also here.)

In other opinions released today, the committee said:

* RELATIONSHIPS: Circuit Judge Bynum Gibson of Monticello didn't automatically have to disqualify in a case in which a cousin was an attorney. Cousins are not included in the relationships for which automatic disqualification is required.

* NEWSPAPER COVERAGE: The committee said a Sebastian County drug court could co-operate, in delineated ways, with a newspaper reporting project on the experience of prescription drug abusers sentenced to the court.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Speaking of...

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Most Shared

  • Hot Springs firing range declared a "Muslim free zone" by its owner

    The owner of The Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range in Hot Springs, Jan Morgan, announced yesterday that she is banning the presence of Muslims in her business. Her reasoning: "Why would I hand guns and ammunition to people whose religion commands them to kill me and my non-muslim patrons?" OK, let's get that lawsuit rolling.
  • Americans for Prosperity sends out hundreds of thousands of mailers with fake voter registration information in North Carolina

    North Carolina's ABC affiliate reports on hundreds of thousands of mailers with false information about voter registration sent by Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers. The official-looking mailers gave the wrong deadline for voter registration and told people to sign up with the wrong state agency. The mailers also gave the wrong office for questions regarding voter registration, the wrong zip code for turning in a voter registration form, and inaccurate information about how people would be notified of their precinct.
  • How the South became dead red

    Good piece in Politico from Stanford sociology professor Doug McAdam on the roots of our modern partisan divide. McAdam tells the familiar story of how the South flipped, as yellow dog Democrats in the old Confederacy abandoned the party in the wake of the Civil Rights movement.
  • Beverly Carter's body found in shallow grave on Highway 5 in northern Pulaski County — UPDATED

    The Pulaski sheriff's office reported early this morning that the body of Beverly Carter, the real estate agent apparently abducted while showing a home near Scott Thursday evening, had been found in a shallow grave near Cabot. The charges against Arron Lewis, her suspected abductor, have been upgraded to capital murder.
  • Mark Pryor highlights Cotton votes against Paycheck Fairness and Violence Against Women Acts

    Sen. Mark Pryor today began what the campaign is dubbing a "Women for Pryor" statewide tour. Pryor is highlighting Cotton's votes against paycheck fairness legislation and the Violence Against Women Act (all together now: the only member of the Arkansas congressional delegation to do so). Pryor was joined by his mother, the former first lady of Arkansas Barbara Pryor, at this morning's event at the Fresco Cafe in Fayetteville. Events will be held across the state to mobilize women in support of Pryor to vote.

Most Viewed

  • Sen. Jason Rapert reacts to Beverly Carter's death with proposal to abolish parole in Arkansas

    Sen. Jason Rapert reacted to the death of Beverly Carter with a proposal on social media to abolish parole in Arkansas. Seeking to do everything in our power to construct public policy that curtails crime and protects citizens is of course vitally important. Indeed, keeping folks safe is a foundation mission of having a government — of having a society — in the first place. Awful tragedies happen, in Arkansas, and the rest of the nation. Events like these rightly shake us. They rightly force us to examine our policy choices. But to conclude that the panacea is locking up more people, and locking them up for longer periods of time, strains credulity. Thoughts on criminal justice and incarceration in the wake of a tragedy, and a conversation with Rapert.
  • Hot Springs firing range declared a "Muslim free zone" by its owner

    The owner of The Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range in Hot Springs, Jan Morgan, announced yesterday that she is banning the presence of Muslims in her business. Her reasoning: "Why would I hand guns and ammunition to people whose religion commands them to kill me and my non-muslim patrons?" OK, let's get that lawsuit rolling.
  • Beverly Carter's body found in shallow grave on Highway 5 in northern Pulaski County — UPDATED

    The Pulaski sheriff's office reported early this morning that the body of Beverly Carter, the real estate agent apparently abducted while showing a home near Scott Thursday evening, had been found in a shallow grave near Cabot. The charges against Arron Lewis, her suspected abductor, have been upgraded to capital murder.
  • AG candidate Leslie Rutledge's voter registration cancelled by Pulaski Co. clerk

    Leslie Rutledge has been kicked off the voter rolls in Arkansas due to the fact that she is concurrently registered out of state. Does that mistake make her ineligible to run for statewide office?
  • Americans for Prosperity sends out hundreds of thousands of mailers with fake voter registration information in North Carolina

    North Carolina's ABC affiliate reports on hundreds of thousands of mailers with false information about voter registration sent by Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers. The official-looking mailers gave the wrong deadline for voter registration and told people to sign up with the wrong state agency. The mailers also gave the wrong office for questions regarding voter registration, the wrong zip code for turning in a voter registration form, and inaccurate information about how people would be notified of their precinct.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation