The pandemic has spawned many innovations for the court system, but perhaps none as clever as a cartoon series created by NC Court of Appeals Judge Richard Dietz titled “Judge Dietz’s Animated Treatise.”
The idea took wing last summer when internships for law students were canceled due to COVID-19. Dietz created Summer Appellate Seminars that were live online for about 200 law students. That morphed into a series on the constitution for high school students.
A Star is Born
Dietz found an animator online for his Animated Treatise series. “It was like Pixar. I sent him some pictures of me and explained what I wanted to do.” Dietz writes and records the scripts, lays a music bed then animation is added. Episodes are posted on YouTube.
Each one-two minute episode relates to the NC Court of Appeals. In the episode on jurisdictional deadlines, a lawyer falls into a manhole on the way to court and asks for a filing delay.
“Now the question is, will I run out of material? It’s tough to take some of these concepts like standards of review and boil them down to just one minute,” said Dietz.
A Public Service
With judicial elections now being partisan, Dietz hopes the series will dissuade voters from viewing judges as mere politicians.
“This series is for lawyers, but I’ll make sure members of the public can watch them and understand them and learn a thing or two about how the courts work and see that this is the sort of things judges are doing. This is not about politics; it’s about public service,” explained Dietz.
While he has gotten positive feedback, he is taking a wait-and-see approach to expanding the series beyond North Carolina. For now, it’s not slotted for Fox’s Animation Domination next season, much to the relief of Bart Simpson, who was dreading taking Contracts as a 1L.