The Court Watch Project is an integral part of the systems advocacy work of Saint Martha’s. For over 25 years, Saint Martha’s has been participating in the Court Watch Project and sending trained volunteers to the St. Louis Circuit Courts to observe and collect data for adult order of protection hearings. Over the past decade, it has been an effective way to advocate for change and build partnerships between the courts and community agencies.
The following Court Watch report is the cumulation of a year-long project where Court Watch, in collaboration with the judicial leadership of the St. Louis County Family Court, focused on the consistency of practices across five divisions of their specialized Domestic Violence Court. Volunteers observed three divisions simultaneously between August through December 2022 and two divisions from January through May 2023. Each judicial officer brings unique perspectives and experiences to the bench and no two courtrooms operate in the exact manner. Monitors observed no two divisions are alike in every way. The outcomes outlined in the report demonstrate generally consistent observance of policies and procedures developed and implemented by the St. Louis County DV Court.
Saint Martha’s and community partners are committed to continued discussions on ways to improve our region’s response to domestic violence survivors and their children, and to increase offender accountability and responsibility in learning and adopting non-violent response options.