We've brought the community into the courthouse, and opened a dialogue
Before Court Watch began there had been virtually no reporters or members of the public in local domestic violence courtrooms in decades. Over 150 community members have now observed thousands of civil and criminal cases and brought fresh perspectives and ideas to a system that had been very closed.
Many judges continue to welcome feedback from Court Watch, saying they find the information valuable and interesting. Our reports are shared by the county District Courts with all new judges and are sent by Maryland’s Administrative Office of the Courts to every District Court judge in the state.
Court Watch has also initiated joint discussions between judges and important community programs, such as the child witness counseling program and the offender intervention project so that judges build a better understanding of how such programs can be incorporated into protective orders to enhance their effectiveness.
Our work has created broader dialogue and involvement as well. Court Watch reports have been covered extensively by the Washington Post, whose editorial page has supported our recommendations for change seven times in seven years. In November 2017, the Baltimore Sun featured Court Watch Montgomery in a front-page investigative story on the lack of judicial accountability in Maryland.
We won’t stop until communities are active in, and knowledgeable about our courts and our courts are knowledgeable about their communities.