Je ne regrette rien

Court Watch

Posted in Uncategorized by Amy on January 24, 2009

My neighbor moved down to New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Like me, she is a Midwest girl, hailing from Iowa. She worked with the rebuilding of the city, leading crews that were gutting homes. She since has left her job, stating that the emotional toll was just too much for her to bear, leading her into a depression over all of the people she wanted to help but logistically couldn’t. Her and I were speaking the other day about things that were hard for us adjusting to down here – the violence, the judicial system, the police department, etc. – and she told me about the court watcher program.

The court watcher program trains individuals to go observe courts, fill out forms on how the court is doing, and then they publish the reports. They have their training the second Saturday of each month at the Latter Library on St. Charles. I am going to the next session on February 14, 2009.

I was prompted to get involved somehow after seeing how a courtroom was run! It was like stepping into an episode of Jerry Springer. I don’t say this to be rude or an elitist, but while I was there, I was approached by an employee of the court for my phone number, there were crying children inside the courtroom, and the inmates were mugging up to their family and talking to them while the judge was trying to hear municipal cases. It took me twenty minutes to figure out who the public defender was, and watching her handle her client’s cases was like watching the Dunkin Donuts man enthusastically saying, “I’ve got to make the donuts.”

I was horrified.

I love this city, really I do, despite my recent qualms and worry. I need to do something instead of staying in and worrying. This is the first step into doing something positive to help this city that has meant so much to me in the short time I have been here.

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