September News from WATCH…

Please click on the links provided to read the September 2010 WATCH newsletter:

 

WATCH POST 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…

 

WEBINAR:

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)*
Cost: $50                
NACMP member rate: $35

 

Register Now

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!
 

WATCH

bringing a public
eye to justice

608 2nd Ave S. #465
Mpls, MN 55402
(612) 341-2747

watch@watchmn.org
www.watchmn.org

WATCH System Accountability Webinar 7-20-10

 

Court Monitoring Makes a Difference

Since 1993, WATCH has trained 760 volunteers who have donated

32,000 hours and monitored over 61,000 hearings.

 

WATCH’s mission is to make the justice system more effective and responsive in handling cases of violence against women and children, and to create a more informed and involved public.

Every day trained WATCH volunteers observe court and report on what they see. WATCH follows up with court staff and committees to recommend improvements. Our experience shows that when the public is present in court, everyone does a better job.

  • WATCH was founded in 1992 in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Trained WATCH volunteers monitor over 5,000 hearings each year in several Hennepin County courts
  • Court personnel and advocates for women agree that public scrutiny of the courts leads to improvements
  • WATCH trains court monitoring groups cross the U. S. with manuals, site visits, and web-based training

WATCH is committed to ending racial, cultural, and gender bias in the courts and to reflecting that commitment at all levels of our organization.

 

 

Click on link below to join our July 20th webinar:

Monitoring Sexual Assault Cases

July 20th from 11:30-12:30pm (CST)

System Accountability for Sexual Assault Cases

Special Guest:
Attorney Laura Jones, CourtWatch Manager
King County Sexual Assault Resource Center in Seattle, WA

 

Through monitoring, research, and feedback, court watch programs promote system accountability by examining and reporting on court procedures, policies, and practices. But with so few cases of sexual violence getting reported to the police and even fewer going to trial, how can court monitoring help? This one-hour presentation will provide an overview of court monitoring and address ways sexual assault programs and advocates can highlight flaws in the system and advocate for change. Special guest Laura Jones will discuss her programs project using court monitors to examine their Sexual Assault Protection Order process.

These additional topics provide in-depth, practical advice and information on specific monitoring issues. 

Can’t make the date? Contact us to schedule a one-on-one session.

September 29th
Managing Court Monitor Volunteers
November 16th
Providing Feedback to Your Courts
 
All WATCH webinars run for one hour and are scheduled for 9:30am PST, 10:30am MST, 11:30am CST, and 12:30pm EST. Payment information above. Webinar descriptions and FAQ can be found here.
 
 
  
Click here to view a brief PowerPoint presentation on the basics of court monitoring.
 

 

Courtwatching in California

From the Center for Judicial Excellence:

 

COURTWATCH
MARIN COUNTY COURTWATCH
WHAT: Family Court Hearing – Assawasuksant v. Heierle
WHEN:Thursday, June 10th at  9:00 AM
WHERE:Marin County Superior Court – Courtroom K, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael 94903 WHAT: Family Court Hearing – Zucconi v. Zucconi
WHEN: Thursday, June 10th at 2:00pm & Friday, June 18th at 9:00 AM
WHERE: Marin County Superior Court – Courtroom K, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael 94903

NAPA COUNTY COURTWATCH
WHAT:Family Court Custody Hearing – Barnett v. Heflebower
WHEN: Tuesday, June 8th at 8:30 AM
WHERE: Napa County Superior Court: Courtroom N
820 Brown Street, Napa 94558

SONOMA COUNTY COURTWATCH

WHAT: Family Court Hearing – Kuhlman v. Tjoelker
WHEN: Thursday, June 17th at 8:30 AM
WHERE: Santa Rosa Family Law Courts at Empire College (law school), Courtroom 22, 3055 Cleveland Ave, Santa Rosa 95403

SACRAMENTO COUNTY COURTWATCH

WHAT: Family Court Trial – Tessema v. Begashaw
WHEN: Thursday, June 10th & Friday, June 11th at 9:00 AM
WHERE: Dept. 123, Ridgeway Family Relations Court, 3341 Power Inn Road 95826

 

WHERE:Dept. 104, Ridgeway Family Relations Court, 3341 Power Inn Road 95826
WHEN: Thursday, June 10th at 1:00 PM
WHAT: Family Court Hearing – Karres v. Rapton

*Please note that we cannot guarantee attendance as Courtwatch is a volunteer program. However, as a means of increasing turnout, you can feel free to forward the eblast to anyone on your personal contact list that may be interested in attending.

Check the CJE website often for breaking news & action opportunities. We’ll be posting updates on CJE’s other legislative priorities & related hearings soon!

For more information, contact CJE at 415-256-9606, or at info@centerforjudicialexcellence.org
   

Together, we can rebuild public trust in our courts, reinforcing the judiciary as a well-managed model of integrity, justice and equality.