The Harvard Women’s Law Association Domestic Violence Courtwatch Program currently operates at the Roxbury District Courthouse and organizers are interested in expanding to other courthouses in the greater Boston community in the future.
The mission of the Harvard Women’s Law Association Domestic Violence Courtwatch Program is to collect statistically reliable data on the disposition of domestic violence cases in order to identify current patterns in case disposition, provide a reliable foundation for policy and legislative analysis, and recommend practices to enhance accuracy, fairness and efficiency. The Program also seeks to increase student interaction with the local court system and appreciation for public interest work.
Proposed Goals of the Program:
To recruit and train neutral, qualified volunteers to observe the justice system and analyze dispositions of domestic violence cases.
To improve the understanding and awareness of domestic violence trends within the student population and community.
To make recommendations enhancing the effectiveness of the judicial system in domestic violence cases to the appropriate parties including but not limited to law enforcement offices, judges, prosecutors, advocates and other civil and criminal case personnel.
To provide statistically reliable data for further research into domestic violence case trends and court administration processes.
Proposed Methods to Reach Goals:
Publish and provide documentation to judges, prosecutors, and other justice system personnel regarding evaluation of court preparedness, treatment of parties, and the manner of court proceedings.
Track trends in the disposition of domestic violence cases including the results of criminal prosecutions as well as requests for harassment prevention and protection orders.
Develop a database including information on accepted plea bargains, outcomes at both bench and jury trials, as well as denials and grants of harassment prevention and protection orders along with variables with the potential to impact outcomes.