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Eyes on the Family Court: Creating an Effective Data Collection Instrument  

Author:  Renee Beeker.; Paul Holdorf.

Source: Volume 12, Number 01, Summer 2019 , pp.7-25(19)

Family & Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly

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The problems plaguing our nation’s family court system inspired this project, which began in response to litigants’ complaints about the quality and effectiveness of family court proceedings. In order to gain a better understanding of the functioning of family courts in matters involving child custody, visitation, support, property division, family violence, and child protection issues, forty-three volunteers observed 649 cases involving fifty-seven judges in twenty counties. Volunteers from various university programs, including law students, legal professionals, and other professional and non-professionals, observed family court cases in locations where they resided or attended school. Data evaluation revealed that nearly one-third of cases demonstrated an evident lack of preparation on the part of the judges, attorneys, and other legal professionals. Failures to uphold due process, to deliver just and reasonable judicial decisions, and to show respect and courtesy to litigants were also evident.

Keywords: “Court Watch” Programs; Citizen Court Monitoring; Judicial Outcome Data Collection Methods; Judge “Report Cards”

Affiliations:  1: National Family Court Watch Project ; 2: National Family Court Watch Project .

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