What is Court Watching?
Court Watch simply means the public observes court proceedings and takes notes. Data gathered is generally put to use to inform the public, the legislature and interested or invested organizations.
What is this Court Watch program for?
There are a number of reasons to hold a court watch program. We plan to focus on arraignment court to collect data that will reveal any overt or implicit bias in the bail setting process as well as look for accountability in the use of WA CrR 3.2 and the bail affordability mandate. The initial program will be held in King County only.
How will it work?
Volunteers will watch court sessions in person or over Zoom and record significant details of each decision made by the judge (such as specific charges, racial background of the person being charged, whether they have a public defender, whether they are homeless), and that data will be moved into a spreadsheet for analysis and eventual publication.
How can I get involved?
This is running on volunteer labor – there’s lots to do! We need volunteers to help:
- train for and do court watch shifts
- conduct data analysis in prep for publication
Preparing to do Court Watching
Forms for Court Watching
- 1. Court Watch Shift Details Form – print one per shift
- 2. Notes on each hearing/arraignment watched in the shift. Print whichever format works best for you:
- Post-shift observations Form print one per shift
Post Court Watch
- Post-shift Court Watch Online Data Entry Form (enter hearing data here)
- Post-shift Observations Online Data Entry Form
- King County Superior Court
- In-Custody Arraignment Calendar – updated at 3 PM each workday with the schedule for the next working day.
- Seattle Municipal Court
- All courtrooms calendar – click on Courtroom Calendar in the top left menu and select room KCJ2 from the dropdown.
King County Jail Virtual Courtroom (also for SMC cases): Webex
- Pierce County Superior Court
- In-custody Arraignment Calendar (CR 270 – 1:30 PM) – updated at 11:30 AM each working day with the schedule for the current day.