Former Circuit Judge Mary Ann Gunn of Fayetteville has added her name to the expanding number of lawyers who are degrading the legal profession with faux court shows that mete out justice as a form of entertainment. I have previously denounced these shows and the types of lawyers who reduce their profession to the level of farce and freak shows (here). In Gunn’s case, the state bar informed her in 2010 that she was violating ethical rules by arranging to have her hearings filmed and released to shows. Rather than give up her desire for fame, Gunn resigned from the court and created a fake court called “Last Shot with Judge Gunn,” a show criticized by drug law experts as harmful and misleading. The problem with people like Gunn is that these shows are the product by unrestrained and self-consuming egotism built on the ruins of such professional values.
Though at the time of her resignation, Gunn denied she was quitting to start the show, she soon did precisely that.
The National Association of Drug Court Professionals has denounced the show, “Last Shot With Judge Gunn.” Ironically, before learning of the show, the NADCP had given an award to Gunn. They now appear to regret that act and are denouncing her decision to start of the new show.
I am equally concerned that Washington County, Arkansas has allowed this show to rent an actual courtroom despite the embarrassment and harm caused by shows like Gunn’s sideshow act.
Once again, I am astonished by the relative silence of the national and state bars in denouncing these shows. While I would be the first to defend these shows in their right to air, we should leave no question in our condemnation of the type of people like Gunn who cash in on reality shows by degrading their profession. These characters always insist that their brand of faux justice is educational. I agree that it does educate viewers but offers a false and misleading image of the law. Like Nancy Grace’s snarling, biased persona, these fake jurists reduce law to entertainment and defendants to props.
Here is the 2010 ethical ruling on Gunn: 2010-01_advisory_opinion
This is a clip from 2009 when she was still sitting on the bench. The clip starts with a highly polished lead featuring Gunn in various poses: