Tammy Marlowe Johnson is summoning you for jury duty, but don’t worry, you won’t have to leave the comforts of home to serve.
The St. James writer/filmmaker has created a ground-breaking new interactive web series called Verdict. She came up with the idea after spending years as a reporter and seeing the justice system work for some people but not for others.
"Anytime you’re a reporter you know there’s a lot of vocal unrest with cases that people feel are unjust. I was trying to think of a way to make a difference and challenge the traditional justice system, but in my own way as a television writer," says Marlowe Johnson, who wrote the documentary Rocket Booster Rescue and has written for the TV series Guinea Pig.
What if the people were actually in charge and what if all of the things that people say following the verdict could actually happen before the verdict were among the questions she asked herself.
Now every Wednesday at www.verdictseries.com, viewers have the opportunity to watch a new five-minute video that shows the prosecution and defense attorneys discussing the case often inspired by real life events. Viewers then have a week to cast their vote before the next case is presented.
Marlowe Johnson teamed up with the Winnipeg-based Frantic Films to create the video components and Tactica Interactive for the online aspects.
Since Verdict launched in April, Marlowe Johnson has been amazed at the response not only online, but in classrooms as well.
Marlowe Johnson says that she expected universities to have an interest in the series, but was surprised when she learned that high schools picked up on it too.
"High schools started coming out of the woodwork right away and wanting to put it into their curriculum so there’s a few schools that have used Verdict and have been watching it once a week," Marlowe Johnson says.
"I’ve always wanted Verdict to be an entertaining springboard to jump into real life issues and with that it is happening just the way I hoped it would. That’s been very rewarding for me."
But Marlowe Johnson isn’t resting on her legal laurels. She has a dramatic series, The Mark of Cain, in development with CTV and earlier this year made her directorial debut with the documentary, Perogy!, which is currently airing on MTS Winnipeg On Demand.
To have your say in the next Verdict case, visit www.verdictseries.com.
Trevor Suffield is a community correspondent for St. James-Assiniboia. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.