Sessions Information

  • April 29, 2021
    4:30 pm - 5:15 pm
    Session Type: Concurrent Sessions
    Session Capacity: N/A
    Hotel: N/A
    Room: N/A
    Floor: N/A

    From classic studies such as Caleb Foote’s 1956 article on vagrancy law enforcement to Amy Bach’s Ordinary Injustice, court observations have been used over time to bring to light to quotidian injustice in the lives of poor people. Clinicians and their students, as daily witnesses to courtroom injustice, are perfectly situated to continue this tradition. In this session, we will explore how clinicians can and do address justice and policy issues beyond their individual case work by engaging in court watching projects with their students. Many clinicians -- and doctrinal faculty -- use court watching to edify students about how justice is carried out on the ground, and such assignments have often provided fodder for clinic orientation or seminars. Yet within the clinical community, a recent effort to find faculty engaging in more extensive projects built around court watching generated significant interest on the topic, but only a sprinkling of faculty who actually had any experience doing such work. Among those clinicians who have used court watching as a way of engaging further with their communities and seeking social change, however, there is a wide range of uses for the data that they and their students collect. Court observations have provided a foundation for civil litigation, policy reports, scholarship, as well as enhanced student experiences. Presenters for this session come from diverse backgrounds and have used court watching in diverse ways. They will describe their court watching work with law students and the use of those observations to create written and advocacy products. Challenges inherent in such projects will also be addressed, including inconsistency in reporting, negative reactions from courthouse or community members, IRB issues, logistical concerns, struggles to process the anecdotal reporting into overall findings, incorporating the work into class plans, and even pushback from journals on its citation.

Session Speakers
Organization: Southern Center for Human Rights
Concurrent Session Speaker

Organization: Courtwatch PG
Concurrent Session Speaker

Organization: University of Mississippi School of Law
Concurrent Session Speaker

Organization: Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University
Concurrent Session Speaker and Coordinator

Session Fees
  • Observing (In)justice:  Court Observation Projects in Clinical Practice: $0.00