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CourtWatch

Since 2010, KCSARC’s CourtWatch program has helped victims of sexual violence obtain access to justice in the King County Superior Court. Utilizing community volunteers who observe criminal and civil cases, and through research of public records, CourtWatch gathers and provides critical information to ensure that victims and their advocates better understand the legal process, assist judges in making decisions that are fair, impartial, and equitable, and inform legislation aimed at preventing and prosecuting sexual violence in King County.

Litigants deserve a justice system that is accessible, fair, and respectful. CourtWatch is a resource to identify opportunities for improvement, and to reinforce what is working well. It is an important partnership between the justice system and the community that it serves. 

Program Highlights

  • Providing confidential feedback to 74% of King County Superior Court judges on courtroom decorum, accessibility, and treatment of the parties to sexual assault cases.

  • Playing a major leadership role in the development and expansion of Washington's Sexual Offense Bench Guide to help inform how judges handle sexual offense cases in Washington State. 

  • Improving the Sexual Assault Protection Order (SAPO) process by promoting legislative changes in 2013 (alternative means of service authorized) and 2017 (2-year cap on duration removed, reissuance and modification/termination processes clarified). Both pieces of legislation helped to increase victim access to this important protection.

  • Launching of the WordWatch project to explore how language impacts our response to acts of interpersonal violence. This project tracks the language used in court documents and proceedings to identify opportunities for outreach. 

  • Additional CourtWatch reports and resources.