The verdict is in

The court-show talk last season may have been about Twentieth Television's new Power of Attorney, but one new court show flew below the radar for much of the season and then came on strong at the end, securing a second season.

Columbia TriStar Television Distribution's Judge Hatchett
ended the season as the No. 2 rookie behind Power of Attorney. It averaged a 2.1 rating for the season and tied Attorney
(1.9 for the season) among all new syndicated strips in the May sweeps, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Judge Hatchett
is the only court show to have grown from September to May, having risen 5% from its first month. It will return in September with 95% of the country cleared and upgrades in more than 40 markets.

"The reason it works is that it's the only court show to go outside the court and make a difference," says CTTD President Steve Mosko. "Judge [Glenda] Hatchett is an advocate of making a difference, and she has done a terrific job working with stations and helping to promote the show in local markets."

Where Judge Judy
is renowned for tough-love sentencing, Judge Hatchett
is known for "creative sentencing." The show focuses on family-court issues, and Hatchett often hands out "interventions." Someone sentenced for drunk driving, for example, will be assigned overnight duty at a hospital emergency room and then brought back on the show for final sentencing with, hopefully, a new outlook, CTTD executives say.

Of the 11 court shows on TV stations nationally at the start of last season, newcomers Moral Court, Curtis Court
and Arrest & Trial
and veteran Judge Mills Lane
will not be returning. Judge Hatchett
and Power of Attorney
were the only two rookie court series to get a second year.