Correspondents keep urging me to dig further into exactly what Circuit Judge Mary Gunn is planning after she leaves the bench next month with intentions to work more drug courts. As we reported last week, a reality TV show featuring the judge is being touted by a California production company. We know independent producers were working feverishly on attempting to package a show out of past episodes of her drug court aired on local cable TV. The same producers have continued to work on arranging future shows and have talked to local court officials about it.
Jones TV, an adjunct of the Jones Trust's education and community centers in Springdale, stopped airing Gunn's drug court in September after a judicial ethics committee sharply criticized the activity. It never aired a final show taped in mid-September, a show that included special lighting and makeup work arranged by independent producers. A state Supreme Court committee has been reviewing the matter of TV court since.
Gunn won't answer my questions about her specific plans, though she insists she has no signed deal with anyone. But that doesn't mean there's isn't a deal awaiting her signature. One unanswered question is exactly what she talked to the Department of Community Corrections about? After some reluctance, DCC finally admitted they'd met with Gunn and she'd described her program to her. They won't say much else. A Q&A with the department's spokesperson, Rhonda Sharp:
Did she seek referrals?
Did they agree to make referrals?
Was there a proposal?
Is something under consideration?
Can I talk to the boss about it?
We have no further comment at this time.
Curious. The touted programming, "Last Shot with Judge Gunn," will be hard to produce without a cast of characters. I've found no indication yet that any local judges stand ready to forward cases to a drug "treatment program" centered on a made-for-TV judge. Questions remain whether a judge would want to participate in such an arrangement, given past ethical concerns. Would DCC sign off on a for-profit TV show as one means of dealing with people committed to its supervision as an alternatiive to incarceration? For some reason, the state agency doesn't much want to talk about it.