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July 8, 2011

ULM's Sutherlin completes short film about jurors' civic responsibilities

Associate Political Science Professor Dr. John W. Sutherlin has completed a short film that every prospective juror in Morehouse and Ouachita Parish will watch before serving.

Sutherlin, who also serves as co-director of the Social Science Research Lab, made the 18-minute film titled "Commitment to Serve: Jury Duty" to cover everything a juror needs to know, from the voir dire process to what to expect in a typical trial.

The film will be donated to parish libraries and made available for schools.

"Our hope was to demystify the process, to put jurors more at ease, to make their service more enjoyable," said Fourth Judicial District Judge Wilson Rambo. "Through the information presented, and the chance to see and hear from our judges, I think we were pretty successful in doing just that."

Sutherlin worked with Wild Hare Productions, a New Orleans based film and editing studio, to complete the film.

He held interviews with every Fourth Judicial District judge and even staged a courtroom scene.

He began filming in February and spent several weeks conducting interviews, selecting music, developing graphics and working with a professional narrator to do the voice over.

"We wanted jurors to get a sense of what to expect before they served," said Sutherlin. "Further, it was important to see and hear from the actual judges, who are the real experts of this film."

Court Administrator Scott Kadar said the judge's interviews "tell the whole story of jury service from selection, serving all the way through a trial, and even what to expect after release from jury duty."

Kadar continued, "The visuals, music and narration were polished and professional. I view the video as an educational tool, not only for prospective jurors, but also for our parish libraries and even civics classes."

For more information, visit the SSRL at

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