Citizen Court Monitoring

Program History

Modern Courts began court monitoring in 1975.  Citizen Court Monitoring is a statewide program that recruits non-lawyer, local volunteers to observe court proceedings in their communities. The monitors’ findings and recommendations are published by Modern Courts and released to the public, court administrators, judges, court personnel, government officials, lawmakers, bar associations, civic groups, and the media.

Monitors are local volunteers who look at the courts from an average citizen’s viewpoint, thereby providing common sense perspectives on how courts serve the public.  During the monitoring project, these volunteers observe proceedings in a particular court for a period of several months, and complete forms designed to help them evaluate critical aspects of the court’s performance, ranging from judges’ management of courtroom proceedings to the physical conditions of the courthouses.

Over the past forty years, Modern Courts’ court monitoring program has been influential in publicizing problems that exist in the courts; urging those responsible for the courts to make improvements, particularly in facilities and court operations; and educating the public about the daily functions and operation of the courts in order to create a constituency of citizens who understand the problems facing the court system and who support efforts to assist the courts to function more efficiently and effectively.

Ongoing Projects

Modern Courts’ continues to seek citizen court monitors so we can continue the work to address problems in courts around the state, and to improve the administration of justice for all New Yorkers.

In 2015 Modern Courts has teamed with the American Association of University Women in monitoring the Dutchess County Family Court.  The report will be released late 2015/early 2016.

Interested in volunteering to be a court monitor in your county. Contact us 

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