New reality show exposes Louisville's child support system

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville parents better pay their child support or their stories may end up on reality television.

"Deadbeat" is a new take on court TV, produced in Louisville. Jefferson County District Court Judges Erica Lee Williams and Sean Delahanty open the doors to their courtrooms to expose the struggle of collecting child support. 

"I'm going to wear you down," Delahanty tells one parent in the show. "I'm going to wear you down with jail." 

"Bring toothbrushes and flip flops -- you are going to be with us for a while, all right," Judge Williams tells another father.

Both parents are seriously behind in their child support payments. "Deadbeat" producers said a mother or father must be at least $1000 behind to be featured on the show.

In another clip viewers see Delahanty telling a parent, "You need to go out and get a job... Get a bad job. It doesn't matter.” Sassy remarks from judges are just one of the reasons some Louisville defense attorneys want the gavel to come down on "Deadbeat."

Defense Attorney Ted Shouse said "I can't see anything positive coming out of this." Several defense attorneys worry the judges will show off for the cameras and hand down harsher punishments. Louisville Public Defender Clay Kennedy filed a motion and got "Deadbeat" cameras removed from a hearing last month. 

Clayton's client is more than $13,000 behind on child support payments according to court records but the hearing would reveal sensitive medical information that his client has the right to keep private. Shouse said, "It kind of makes a carnival out of poverty... I wonder what effect this will have on the children of these people."

"Deadbeat" Executive Producer Michael Lattin said his show is a public service. "Our goal is to expose the problem and help the victims, who are ultimately the children not getting what they need from their parents, not getting what they deserve from their parents -- or parent -- in the form of food, clothing and care," said Lattin.

Ratings prove court shows are undeniable popular in daytime television and cameras are legal in Kentucky courtrooms. Judge Delahanty said, "The citizens ought to be able to see their judges at work, what happens in a courtroom and how decisions are made." With 450 criminal child support cases in Louisville, the hope is that "Deadbeat" doesn't do more harm than good.

The judges do not receive any compensation for appearing on the reality show.

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