Family Court Observation Assignment
The objective of this assignment is to introduce you to the reality of the family court judicial system and give you a real-life experience for your scholarly work in this class. This assignment will require you to attend a Family Court, or the court that deals with family matters in the county or city where you live and observe a Family Court hearing: divorce, adoption, child custody, visitation, foster care, etc.
I recommend visiting the website for the court you are planning to visit for your observation and calling in advance and speaking to the judicial assistant to determine when the relative hearing or trial will happening.
Select your own time; to visit the court(s )as you determine and incorporate into your schedule.
No electronic devices in courtroom. Be very certain that cell phones and beepers are clearly off. If you think that you cannot remember to turn them off, leave them in the car. Absolutely no tape recorders or computers. Turn off all electronic devices, no cell phones please. Be very cautious about this and please be respectful of the court.
Court attire (dress) must be appropriate. No shorts, cut-offs, halter tops, flip flops, caps or baggy or saggy pants. Business office attire (dress) is appropriate.
Please be sure to follow all Covid-19 protocols on your court visit.
Introduce yourself to the judge and general magistrate – ask the bailiff at an appropriate time for an introduction. You should also introduce yourself to the attorneys, if they seem approachable or willing, and, if you speak to either or both of the attorneys, be sure to smile, shake hands, or otherwise acknowledge or be pleasant to the parties.
Answer the following questions in question and answer format first:
Which court did you attend? Include the location of the court
When did you attend (day and time [start and end of your observation)]?
What type of case did you observe (divorce, child custody, adoption, visitation, etc.)
What are the names of the participants (judge, attorneys, litigants)
Was anyone else present in the courtroom and what was their purpose (court personnel, witnesses, interpreter, court reporter)?
In paragraph and narrative form describe what you observed, in detail, in terms of the issue pending before the court and the format of the hearing. (2-3 pages)
Finally, address the following questions in paragraph and narrative form. Preface each section with the subsection you are addressing:
Were the participants prepared and professional? What would you have done differently if you were in their place? (1-2 pages)
Was the judge professional, prepared, and attentive? What would you have done differently if you were in his/her place? (1-2 pages)
Were the issues resolved to anyone’s satisfaction? Should they have been? If the hearing did not conclude, was it reset for a later date, and if so when? (1-2 pages)
How did the courtroom observation fit with your expectation of the family court as it relates this this course? (1-2 pages)
What did you learn and how does it relate to the text and discussions in the course? (Take this as an opportunity to be thoughtful and critical.) (2-3 pages)For more information on electronic devices in courtroom check on this:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtroom_photography_and_broadcasting
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