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Simple explainer shows how anyone can hold people in power accountable through court watching

A nationwide group of 30 independent court watch organizations has come together to create a network to ensure justice is served in America’s courtrooms. The National Courtwatch Network is working to expand court watching so that more people in power are held accountable.

The job of a court watcher is simple: Observe the proceedings to ensure justice is served. People can do this by showing up in a courtroom or observing online.

At a time when a growing number of Americans are waking up to systemic social injustice, court watching is a way that ordinary citizens can make a significant impact in the heart of where injustice often takes place. For those who are new to court watching, the organization provides training.

The organization believes that with a watchful eye on the system, prosecutors and judges will be less likely to impose unaffordable fines, conceal police misconduct, hurt desperate families and ignore physical and mental health issues faced by defendants.

“Every day, thousands of people go through court hearings alone, as if in a national assembly line of injustice,” the National Courtwatch Network says on its website. “This leaves a devastating impact on individuals and communities, who are disproportionately Black and brown and low-income.”

The organization has a celebrity to help promote its message, singer-songwriter and court watcher Fiona Apple, who wrote the music for “The Court Watchers” video. “Court watching is really the gateway to a better community, a better world, because it will make you care,” Apple told The Washington Post. “It makes you care about people you don’t know. And we need more of that. We really need more of that.”