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Bad Video Loses in Court

Before you start jury duty at LA Superior court you have to watch a training video.  If you watch the video on line at home, you can come in later on jury duty day when they play it in court.  Sounded good to me.

I sat down at my desk, all set for a great video from a court system based in the Entertainment Capitol of the World.  Oops.

It was awful.  Talking heads and condescending narration over what looked like bad stock footage. The narration was printed on screen to underline the tedious points.  “BE ON TIME!” it shouted, as the Narrator said, “It’s important to be on time!”  The music was pure ‘70s porn.  Over an hour of pure torture.

To make sure you watch, there’s a quiz between segments.  Once I discovered that if you answer incorrectly the computer helpfully points you to the right answer, I “watched” the rest at my desk with the sound turned down.

The morning of jury duty, I arrived late as scheduled, but not late enough.  The video was still playing. The unfortunates who hadn’t watched on line were squirming in their seats, looking out the window, or scribbling in notebooks. Nobody was watching the video.

After the video, the presiding judge came in to give pep talk.  He was spectacular.  Warm, weighty, funny, and convincing.  He told us more about the true meaning of jury duty in 10 minutes than the video did in an hour. At the end I wanted to serve on a jury.  He got smiles and a warm ovation from the group.

The lessons:

1)  Even if you have the power to “make” people watch your video, you can’t make people watch your video.

2)  Entertainment always wins.  An entertaining judge trumps a boring video.

3)  Don’t settle for bad video.  Clearly the court has at least one telegenic judge on staff.  Why didn’t he star in the video?  And with a little networking, why couldn’t the Superior court find a great LA-based director do shoot the video pro bono?

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