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July 24, 2023 RAPID RESPONSE

Court-Watching Programs: Purpose and Progress

In the U.S., court hearings are generally public. This was intended to ensure that justice was administered in the open and with public knowledge. But, most people have never been inside of a courtroom, and their perceptions of what happens in court too often come from television or movies. Court-watching programs ensure scrutiny and evaluation. They serve to highlight the realities of our legal system by recording data, uncovering stories, identifying trends, and highlighting problems. Further, by presenting observations and findings to policymakers and the public, court-watching programs can drive reform. This webinar looks at court-watching programs across the United States, discussing their purpose, organization, and impact.


  •  Dr. Carmen Johnson – Director, CourtWatch PG; Author, The Pretense of Justice
  •  Justin Hansford – Professor of Law, Howard University Law School; Executive Director, Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, Howard University Law School 
  •  Sophia Barberini – Assistant Intern Coordinator, The People's Vanguard of Davis
  • Brinda Kalita – Court Watch Intern, The People's Vanguard of Davis


  • Malia N. Brink – Senior Policy Attorney, Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law; Council Member, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice; Special Advisor, Criminal Justice Committee, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice


ABA Court Watching webpage

ABA Court Watching reports

CourtWatch PG – Prince George’s County

Report: Inside Prince George’s County Bond Hearings: Analysis, Findings & Recommendations, Howard University, Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center School of Law

Davis Vanguard CourtWatch

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