A long-simmering dispute in the legal community could come to a head Friday at the meeting of the Pulaski County Bar Association. Members will vote on a resolution to rescind an association decision in September to transfer the biennial Gridiron Show, a musical comedy spoof of political figures and current events, to the Pulaski County Bar Foundation.
The transfer, engineered by Circuit Judge Herb Wright, was soon followed by the foundation's decision to change producer of the show, which had been run since 1996 by Judge Mary Spencer McGowan. The foundation has contended it could make more money from the show, scheduled for August, in support of legal education. The foundation has tapped Melanie Martin, a deputy prosecutor, to be the new producer.
The changes produced a backlash from long-time participants in the show. Sixteen lawyers, many of them with credits as lead players in past Gridirons, signed the resolution to rescind the transfer. The Bar Association Board has recommended leaving the transfer undisturbed.
The resolution, which also calls for McGowan's reinstatement, says she has served "without compensation, devoting countless hours of her time and energy to producing successful Gridiron Shows each biennium and enjoys the unqualified affection and loyalty of the entire cast, crew and professional support personnel ..."
Signers are Dent Gitchel, Jackie Walker, Joe Purvis, Frank Falkner, Gary Green, Dick Hatfield, Bill Robinson, Kathryn Pryor, Timothy Boozer, Drake Mann, Steve Giles, Josh McHughes, Herb Rule, Brian Rosenthal, Perry Young and Cathi Compton.
Ironic note: The vote will follow a talk to the bar by Supreme Court Justice Robert Brown about his campaign to establish an apparatus to ensure civility in judicial elections.
Politicking has been intense. Legal wrinkles at play suggest the vote might not be the final verdict on the issue.