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Court Watch

AAUW Family Court Monitoring Initiative

Chair: Ann Pinna, 462-3140, email


Forms/Information for Monitors

Court Monitoring Form 2019>>
Print copies as needed

Web calendar for DC family court>>


Court Information

ABC's of Family Court>>

General NY Court information>>

Poughkeepsie Journal Article March 21, 2018>>

Annual Report 2018>>

Report on Dutchess County Family Court 2017

The Fund for Modern Courts issued a "Report on Dutchess County Family Court" in November, 2016.   This report was based on monitoring by the members of Poughkeepsie AAUW, Inc. Court Watch.  The award highlighted below as well as the Poughkeepsie Journal article were the results of this report.  Read the complete report HERE>>

Court Watch Receives Award

On Wednesday, December 7, 2016, the Court Watch Initiative of the Poughkeepsie Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) was recognized with the Duboff Award.  The Samuel J. Duboff Memorial Award recognizes non-lawyers who make extraordinary contributions toward improving the quality of justice in New York State.

The award was presented for the work of the group in monitoring the Family Court in Dutchess County. Their observations contributed to the recent report presented by The Fund for Modern Courts, an independent, statewide court-reform organization, on the Family Court of Dutchess County.  The award cited their work as an excellent example of how volunteers help promote the fair and effective administration of justice in the courts of New York State.

The award was presented at Dorsey & Whitney LLP, New York City.  Poughkeepsie AAUW members Margaret Nijhuis, Ann Pinna, chair of the Court Watch Initiative, Mara Goldstone and Sandy Lash are shown receiving the award from Barry Bohrer, Chair of the Fund for Modern Courts.


Click on the picture above for the Poughkeepsie Journal's article on the Report by The Fund for Modern Courts>>

Mission and Purpose

AAUW firmly believes that the prevention of violence towards women and children and the fair and thoughtful treatment of victims within the court system are integral to our mission to promote gender equity. For this reason, The “Court Watch Initiative” was created.  The purpose of this program is to document systemic  issues in the local justice system that result in the re-victimization of those who have suffered domestic abuse.
AAUW seeks to promote greater accountability by observing judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, and other justice system personnel.  The ultimate goal of the Court Watch Program is to share these findings with members of the judicial system and the community in order to keep victims safe, bring about improvements in the courts, and to promote fair and equal justice for all.

                Downloadable Descriptions of
                     Domestic Violence

The Cycle of Violence>>

The Dynamics of Domestic Violence>>

Power and Control Wheel>>

Equality Wheel>>

What exactly is Domestic Violence>>

Domestic Violence Facts>>

Source National Coalition Against Domestic Violence>>

Monitor Training on March 31

Ann Pinna, Chair                                      Monitors: Liz Graham, Joanne Dyson,
                                                               Sandy Sherman, Flo Mondanaro

Elaine Anderson                            Long day but lots of questions and good information

WHAT WE DO: As court monitors, we go into Family Court at least one time per month for 1/2 day in order to look for systemic problems or issues in the court system.  We fill out specially designed Observation Forms which we then submit for Data Entry. The data is collected and the results are analyzed. Then we inform the judges of the results in the hope of making improvements, if possible, in the court system.

OUR GOAL: Our goal is to provide fair and equal treatment for women and everyone associated with domestic violence.

TRAINING: Training sessions are conducted at designated times of the year. 

TIME COMMITMENT: You must be willing to go to court at least one day per month for either a morning or afternoon session. There are also occasional meetings with guest speakers and
group-share sessions.

Issues of Concern

Court monitors look for “issues of concern” which may involve demeanor in the courtroom, accommodations for special needs, victim safety, clarity of proceedings, firearms, clear delineation of items in Orders of Protection, and others.

Data Collection & Sharing of Information

Volunteer monitors fill out specially –created “Court Observation Forms”   corresponding to selected issues of concern.  Data from these observations forms are analyzed, and, at a mutually-agreed upon date, information is then shared with the judges, other court personnel and staff.  AAUW findings are reviewed in a positive spirit of collaboration and a mutual desire to seek adjustments in key areas.

Invitation to Join the Court Watch Program

If you feel you would like to be a part of this dedicated and worthwhile program and can contribute at least one morning or afternoon per month to attend court on a consistent basis, please contact Ann Pinna at email or call her at 462-3140. Please be advised that additional training sessions, as well as meetings and peer conferencing occur periodically.

If you wish to learn more about the program, view the Court Monitoring Newsletter, or register to become a court monitor, please contact Ann Pinna.


Newsletter >>


Content © 2001-2020 Poughkeepsie Branch of the American Association of University Women, Inc, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.
Website comments are welcome and may be directed to Mary King. This page last updated on May 10, 2019