Please click on the links provided to read the September 2010 WATCH newsletter:
WATCHING WITH A WIDER LENS
by Susan Lenfestey, WATCH founder
Recently I was talking to a friend about a WATCH report that documents, among other things, the hurdles facing a victim of domestic abuse if her children have been removed from her care and she is trying to get them back. “So you don’t just sit in the back of the courtroom checking things off on a list,” she said. It was the clichéd “aha!” moment when I realized that many people, even those who generously support WATCH, don’t know very much about what WATCH actually does.
As one of the founders of WATCH, I can tell you that in our nascence we did indeed sit in the courtroom with a checklist and, well, watch. Did the hearing start on time? Did anyone tell the victim or family members why there was a delay and how long it would be? Did an emotionally charged sentencing get squeezed into a busy arraignment court? Was the defendant – or victim – one we had seen in the past? After one year we issued a report on what we, as outside observers, had noted and what we believed could be done more effectively. Some of the practices now taken for granted in the daily routine of the courts were enacted as a result of that simple first report. Read the full article and entire WATCH Post newsletter…
MANAGING COURT MONITOR VOLUNTEERS
In this webinar you’ll learn strategies and techniques for recruiting, training, and managing court monitor volunteers.
Special guests Tulsa County Court Watch and the Legal Aid Justice Center of Virginia will discuss their innovative programs that use seniors and law students respectively to monitor the courts. Participants will receive sample applications, job descriptions, and screening materials.
Date & Time: Wednesday, September 29th 11:30 (CST)*
NACMP member rate: $35
Contact: Anna Light or (612) 341-2747 x7.
*9:30 am Pacific, 10:30 am Mountain, 12:30 pm Eastern
NEWS & NOTES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
Courtwatch-Rochester (Rochester, MN) recently visited the WATCH offices to meet with staff and learn about our program. The group is reorganizing after a staffing change and investigating new directions for their work. We wish this all-volunteer organization all the best as they work to improve their courts.
WATCH is pleased to announce that the Domestic Violence Report will publish an article on WATCH’s report examining the child protection process in Hennepin County, MN. The article will appear in the October/November issue.
Congratulations to the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (an NACMP member) on the release of their video entitled Family Abuse Protection Orders in Virginia: Everything You Need to Know. This innovative 15-minute video, available at their website, provides an overview of the process for obtaining an order and potential consequences if the order is violated.
HEARD AT COURT
The deputy was playing solitaire on his cell phone throughout the entire order for protection hearing this morning.
During a probation violation hearing for a third degree assault and domestic assault by strangulation case, the defense attorney was exceptionally organized and respectful. He represented his client effectively without minimizing the crime in any way.
I was reminded again today of how hard it is for the families of victims and defendants to see court staff laughing and joking around between hearings. I overheard the mother of a defendant whisper to her husband that she felt the court personnel were not respecting her family’s dignity.
A defendant out in the lobby at one of the suburban courthouses was texting a woman in the courtroom. After a defense attorney told the deputies what was happening, they went out and took him into custody for violating his no contact order.
Court was scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. At 10:30, the judge had only spent 10 minutes on the bench, heard two cases, and provided no explanation as to what was going on.
Since I began monitoring this court in September, I have seen all the attending deputies sleeping at some point!
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