Project Description

Court Watch Training with the League of Women Voters, Municipal Court Jude Fannon Rucker, and MARCC ED.

Reforming our justice system from inside the courtroom

In 2019, MARCC embarked on a court watch project at the request of a municipal court judge. The purpose of the project was to understand municipal court and offer suggestions that may improve the local court system and those that it serves – defendants and the

The project focus was to observe the criminal case docket of all fourteen Hamilton County
Municipal Court judges, track the observations through a checklist and with that information offer suggestions and next steps in a report. The process, observations and report would determine if there were any patterns that surfaced regarding defendant demographics, judicial behavior, court proceedings, treatment of defendants, access to legal representation, types of charges, and general impressions while observing.

The CourtWatch Project is a participatory research project, meaning judges, observers and the sponsoring organizations, MARCC, League of Women Voters Cincinnati Area (LWVCA) and Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati (WWC) would engage in various stages of the project – volunteer recruitment, training, debriefing, and the report. Volunteers signed up from MARCC, LWV, WCC, and the broader community. At least half of those trained observed court at least once. Project partners felt that a person’s presence at the training contributed to the project, due to their interest and newly acquired understanding of municipal court. After 3 trainings, 2 debriefings and 3 month-long CourtWatches there is now a pool of fifty trained volunteer court observers.

Read the 2020 Report


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