EXCLUSIVE! “Last Shot with Judge Gunn” – There’s a New Judge in Town! Special Interview with TV Judge Mary Ann Gunn.” by Daniel DiCriscioPosted by Rose in Beverly Hills, Celebrity Trials, Daniel DiCriscio, Daniel DiCriscio Exclusive, Daniel DiCriscio Messiah of Makeover, Exclusive by Daniel DiCriscio, Hollywood
“Last Shot with Judge Gunn” is a new nationally syndicated Court TV show from 3 time Emmy Award winner and creator of “Judge Judy” and “A Current Affair” Executive Producer Peter Brennan, and 3 time Emmy Award winner and Co-Executive Producer Lisa Lew.
“I’ll search your car, I’ll search your house, I’ll test your Mother” is a sound bite that rings out loud and clear. Mary Ann Gunn, aka Judge Gunn, delivers that line with a strong southern accent that actually makes you stand up straight, sends chills up ones spine, and warms your heart all at the same time. Judge Gunn joins the list of other well know Court TV predecessors into the Courtroom/Judge TV arena, but this Arkansas native brings a whole new punch to the court room. Not only does she preside on the bench just like those other well-known TV Judges, but her crusade is to help “drug addicts” correct their lives and give them that last shot, or chance, in her courtroom. This show actually goes inside an actual working courtroom!
Methamphetamines, Cocaine, Marijuana, Oxycodone, Methadone, etc are drug names that you will hear dispersed from Judge Gunn’s lips without shame. Drug use has become a very serious problem in this country and this show is facing up and shedding some light on this issue. Mary Ann gives her very straight forward, no holds barred guidance and opinions with conviction to otherwise lost souls who have gotten lost on the drug “high”way and are recent drug offenders, facing incarcerations, and/or losing control of their lives and families, to do as she says and follow her orders, clean up their acts, and follow the help plan she has for them; hence Drug Court, and the show’s title “Last Shot with Judge Gunn”. If you are difficult in her courtroom, she will “Come down on you like Thunder!”. I find that this show will educate and bring a tear to your eye, as fast as maybe make you smile, depending on the case and its outcome.
After five successful years of changing lives in her courtroom on local TV in Arkansas, Judge Mary Ann Gunn’s new TV show “Last Shot with Judge Gunn” is now coming into your house, and your TV sets, nationally. For 13 years the dynamic Mary Ann has presided over Arkansas’ Washington County Drug Court with the greatest success story in the nation. Mary Ann Gunn is not your average judge – or average woman. She was the first ever female auto mechanic at Sears, she rides a Harley Davidson and drives a tractor, she shoots and she knits. As a single mother she proudly raised her daughter Sara Christian, also an attorney.
I found Mary Ann, and her show, to be interesting to me. Once I watched a few episodes, I couldn’t stop watching! Because I have studied law, (yeah, I know I am diverse in my interests) I was motivated by her; she piqued my interest with the subject-matter of this show, and she stole my heart!
I had the chance to interview Mary Ann Gunn and here is what she had to say:
Daniel DiCriscio (DD): What were your thoughts when you were first approached to be the Drug Court Judge?
Judge Gunn (JG): When I was first approached to be the drug court judge, I did not have any interest in doing it at all. I was much like the naysayers about this program; I didn’t have any sympathy or empathy, for anyone that committed a crime, especially a felony, or any crime. That committed any crime while on drugs or alcohol. And I didn’t want to be a part of the program. And then when I did agree to do it, temporarily only, because I was kind of shamed into. Because other people had volunteered around the community and they needed a judge. I said I would do it for a very short period of time, just because no one else would. And then I meet those first five persons that come before the court, I learned each individual story, and I learned about their addictions and I was so shocked. Then, one girl came before me, and she started using methamphetamine when she was 22 years old. She met someone in a bar, and he shot her up that night. That’s what she said; those are her words, with methamphetamines. And she said she never quit. And she was 42 when I meet her. And for 20 years she was an IV methamphetamine user. And she said that she saw that same man two years later in the same bar. And when he saw her and saw how strung out she was, those are her words, he cried. And I asked her, how it was she wanted to come to drug court? And her response was, for 20 years I have never received treatment. I could never pay for it and when I was arrested, it saved my life. And I said, how, how did you do that by yourself? And she said, I rediscovered my mother, I had completely lost my relationship with my mom. And she said, I am so thankful, that she was still alive and that she was there to help me. And when I wanted to help myself, and I said, how did you live? And she said, I was a drug runner. I was cute, I was young. And she said, my boyfriends would ask me to run drugs and I did. And she’s clean today. That was 10 years ago.
DD: You said there are “naysayers” about the program. What are your thoughts on that?
Judge Gunn (JG): “There are people who are naysayers about this program. And to them, I say, that, you don’t understand. And they don’t want to understand. Because we have an opportunity, both the participants and the team, we have an opportunity to show the country their stories. And they’re brave and they want to give back. And they want to help other drug courts; they want legislators to free up monies to pay for treatment. They know how important it is, because they’ve been on the leading edge of drug court. And we were the second drug court in the state. So we, we together the team and the participants, started a program, when the community, when we started it, the community said, “No, don’t start drug court. These people are criminals. If they did the crime they need to do the time. They need to go to prison.” And then once the community understood, and the nation understood, that drug courts were a way of helping people and that these people were worth it, and the treatment works. And all of a sudden, drug court is a very, very good thing. And actually it was a very gradual process that drug court became a very, very good program. Well accepted. And now what we want to do is bring it into the households in America, and bring it home to everyone. And if you see activity at your neighbor’s house, this is maybe what’s going on. If you have a loved one that is addicted to drugs, there’s hope. That there are programs out there that work and that they work very, very well, you don’t have to send them to treatment center after treatment center.”
DD: Will this show help the participants in your courtroom?
JG: “In order to do help, everyone has to be on board together. So this show is an outreach to the nation, to say, let’s all work together, and let’s help these people. They are our fellow Americans and they need it. And if they are willing to make the commitment, to change and to go through, the initially physical withdraws that they do, and then to work hard to get their life back, we should be supportive and help them, because they will help us back.”
DD: Does the Drug Court program really help and save lives, and incarceration isn’t always the answer?
JG: “Drug Court gives hope. It saves lives. And it is a process of help for those people who don’t have no place else to go and don’t know where to turn. And without it, your penitentiaries, the doors in will be swinging back and forth. Because they’re going to the penitentiary because they committed a crime against the dignity and peace of the state and than once they serve their time, they’re released. And they go right back to the same life they had before. And the next time they are arrested, they go back into the penitentiary, for just a little bit longer and then pretty soon they come out again. And by the time the back and forth happens 2 or 3 times, they are a habitual offender and they, their life is gone. And we have housed them, clothed them, and fed them. We have spent thousands and thousands upon hundreds of thousands of dollars on one person to keep them off the streets without any way to help them with their disease. And I am not saying, I am not saying, we should never put a criminal that has a drug related problem in the penitentiary. I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying let’s look at each person, each heartbeat and find out what their level of commitment is. And then open the door a different way. Open the door from another side. The vast majority of graduates of this program will tell you that this program saved their lives. And without the program, they would have died. And we don’t have a lot of older people in drug court. We may have a couple of participants, less than a handful over the age of 50 that have come through the program in 10 years. Because people that abuse drugs, like at this level, they don’t live. You’re right, it does save, it does save lives. And if they graduated from this program, and it did save their life, then why should we, or why should anyone say no to that? ”
DD: I heard you say before that “trust is a milestone” can you explain and tell me how you came up with that?
JG: It was her (the 42 y.o. woman from first Q/A above), she said, when I said that she rediscovered her mother. And she said that her mother loved her, always loved her but that she “trusted” her again. And that is a “milestone”. Trust is a milestone for the participants in drug court when they re-earn that trust. It means so much to them.
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November 1, 2011
Daniel is a feature writer for Rose Speaks.com.
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