Parenting a Child Who Has Been Traumatized by Abuse, Family Court

“I love my Mom very much…She has a heart so big every body in my family in her heart..” ~ Letter from my daughter, “JJ”. 

Raising my voice, to share how failures in Hennepin County, Minnesota’s family court system and Guardian ad Litem program have negatively impacted, and hurt, my family.

The Hennepin County Family Court placed my children in the sole custody, and care of an allegedly abusive parent who has over a dozen documented abuse allegations against him, with both children suffering from PTSD related to abuse and trauma. I lost custody after a trial that lasted barely two hours, and had no legal representation. I was wrongfully stripped of custody, and now am being alienated from my children by court order. There is nothing in my background that would merit this – I have a stable home, am gainfully employed in the healthcare field and have a long history of volunteering and community involvement. My children love me, and want to come home.

The custody ruling, and subsequent orders limiting parenting time, caused significant trauma for my children. My children also suffer tremendous grief and loss as their relationship with their mother, and our cultural and religious heritage, has been removed from their lives. They have been robbed of their childhood, and learned maladaptive ways to survive. To replace the love of the mother that has been removed from his life, my son talks to strangers on the internet. He created a new family by engaging in role-playing games, which he spends all of his time on (and I have no control what my son is doing online because his father has sole custody). My daughter is dissociating, it has gotten so bad that the school held a special meeting on how to reach her when she retreats into herself. What is happening in their father’s home that is causing these ongoing problems? What are my children reacting to?

NCTSN: Symptoms and Behaviors Associated with Exposure to Trauma


During a visit with my daughter, “JJ”, we sat on the couch, eating ice-cream. We giggled about how much Dora the Explorer has grown up (Mom, she’s a teenager now! She wears make-up!). We talked about her favorite books. I knew those books, and their characters, because I spent hours in the juvenile section at the library, reading. I curled up on a lumpy beanbag chair that smelled like cotton candy perfume, several sizes too small for my adult body, to read the stories that my daughter loved; it became my way of keeping her close.

For a moment, we were just like any other mom and daughter… looking at us you would never know that my abusive ex controlled every aspect of my parenting time schedule, and routinely denied visits with the children. JJ begged to come home until her voice was hoarse. She heard “no” so many times that she just stopped asking. I had battled in family court for almost a decade to have this one moment with my daughter.

Everything was going so well… then, without warning, JJ became withdrawn. Something unknown triggered her. There are so many unknowns to my daughter. I have been excluded from JJ’s life for so long. There are blank spots where a mother should have been… questions to ordinary things that go unanswered… Whatever made JJ upset was not something I could detect. There was no argument. No rainy day. We were eating ice-cream… And without warning JJ ran into her bedroom, slamming the door. When I got to bedroom she had shut herself in the closet and would not come out. I knew JJ was having troubles at her father’s home, and in school, she didn’t make friends easily… but other than that I had no information. My ex does not communicate or share information about the children, and the family court refuses to intervene.

I pointed the CD player toward the closet, putting in Colbie Caillat, a favorite album. I hoped the music would soothe JJ and coax her out. Several songs played but none touched my heart that day so much as “Capri“.

Colbie gently sings:

Sweet baby
And things will be hard at times
But I’ve learned to try
Just listening
Patiently, oh Capri
Sweet baby
Oh Capri
She’s beauty
Baby inside she’s loving
Oh Capri
Your beauty
Just like your mother…

The gentle ballad prompted an invisible dance between my daughter and I. Slowly the door cracked open. I slid a book through the crack, a diary style novel about a quirky teenager. JJ passed the book back to me without a word; one page was marked, a message sent. In small steps JJ slowly emerged. I was relieved to see her shy smile. Her brown eyes averted mine. I offered my love and acceptance, and didn’t ask questions. The rest of our visit was quiet but peaceful.

I did not realize until later what the closet represents for JJ. Seeking answers, I stepped inside, sitting on the same spot in the soft carpeting where JJ once sat. My head rested against the back wall, softened by the folds of a light blue princess dress with bell sleeves and a ruffled neckline. JJ loved to wear that dress when she was a toddler. However, she wasn’t a delicate princess. JJ loved to run and play in that dress, not concerned if it got dirty or torn. At my side, are shelves overflowing with dolls, trinkets, and more books. I saved every drawing JJ made since pre-school, neatly stacked in binders. JJ has an ability to find stray foreign coins, and kept her prized collection in a box painted like a treasure chest. I found a worn photo album and flipped through the pages, tearful as pictures portrayed JJ growing from a gaped-tooth toddler wearing a princess dress into a somber young girl.

I began to understand JJ’s need for space, for time alone. The closet holds so much of JJ’s life with me, before she was taken away. The closet also holds her treasures, her hopes for the future. The closet is JJ’s own space; it has not been altered, or taken from her. So much turmoil had happened in JJ’s young life, decisions made by adults who held power over her and failed to listen to what she wanted or needed. JJ often expressed that she felt misunderstood, or not listened to. But this one space, the closet, belongs to her alone.

I would hold this space for JJ and not force my way in. Or judge her need for it. I prayed one day the door would open, that I would be able to share much more than a closet with her. That finally we would be able to share our lives together, without interruption, as mother and daughter, and be a family again.

~ Emily Court, © August 2016

Posted in Family Court Injustice, Jamie Manning Guardian ad Litem, Judge Robben, Our Family Albulm | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judge Amber Wolf: Criticizes Correctional System After Prisoner Appears in Court with No Pants

This blog has published multiple stories of failures in the legal system…I  am happy to report a story of an honest judge, who applies the law with fairness and compassion. 

Fairness is what justice really is.” ~ Justice Potter Stewart, Associate Justice of U.S. Supreme Court (1915-1985)

Public Domain: John Hain,

(Kentucky, August 2016) Judge Amber Wolf, Jefferson County District Court, condemns jail administrators for inhumane treatment of a prisoner, who appeared in court wearing just a long shirt with no pants on underneath. The woman had been detained for 3 days and her requests for a jumpsuit and hygiene items were denied.

Judge Wolf responds to the situation: “Excuse me? This is outrageous. Is this for real?

Judge Wolf also criticizes the harsh penalty inflicted on the defendant, a first time offender charged with shoplifting, and apologizes for the way she has been treated. 

Read Full Story: Judge outraged as woman appears in court without trousers – after prison refuses her clothes by Mirror (UK)


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Revenge Obsession: When You are Viewed as a Threat

(Public Domain: George Hodan,

Have you…

Offered your support or assistance to someone and then found yourself the target of vicious attacks (character assassination, threats, false reports, etc)  because of your association with that person? Or been targeted because you share the same name as someone else?

Had an abusive ex-partner used your children as a weapon to hurt you? Does your ex-partner physically or verbally lash out at the children when angry at you? Is encouraging the children to hate, fear or reject you?

Been involved in lengthy legal litigation, that has lasted for years, and continues due to one party manipulating, abusing or otherwise using the legal system to continue to abuse and victimize you? Do the legal motions defy logic, and issues are blown out of proportion? Have you lost custody of your child due to false allegations, or feel targeted by malicious prosecution?

Have you been stalked, harassed and threatened by an ex-partner or people connected to them? Had supporters join your ex who act irrationally, and justify their hatred of you at all costs. People you may not even know may be enlisted in the attacks.

These are just a few examples of “Revenge Obsession” or “Obsessive Ex Syndrome”. If this has happened to you, or someone you know, you may be a victim.

What is Revenge Obsession?

Public Domain:

Revenge Obsession” happens when an ex-partner feels that they have been wronged or harmed by their former partner (the target) and then personally seeks destructive ways to retaliate, hurt, humiliate and/or get revenge on their target.

Tactics of Revenge Obsession Include: stalking, smear campaign, legal abuse, mobbing or enlisting other people into taking actions to hurt or intimidate the target, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse, cyber stalking and bullying, vandalizing or stealing property, killing or hurting pets, threats, catfishing (going online with a fake identity to con someone) and using the children as a pawn to hurt the target, etc.

Revenge Obsession is NOT gender specific; it is about maintaining power and control over someone else. The perp enjoys tormenting the victim; they may have psychopathic or narcissistic traits. A history of abuse in the relationship is also common.

A profile into the mind of a stalker, and why they target their victims, can be read here: Mind of a Stalker: Why Torment Someone?

Abuse Sanctuary offers some examples of the dysfunctional ways a perp will treat their partner, and explains their distorted views about relationships: How Obsessive Ex Syndrome Prevents A Normal Break-Upl

In the mind of the perp, there is no end or resolution to the relationship, their is no break-up or divorce. Through Revenge Obsession, the perp will continue to harass and harm, and even defy the law, because they not only feel justified but see the target as a threat that needs to be eliminated.

The victim will want an end, and want to move on with their life but will be challenged and prevented by an obsessive ex who refuses to move on. This is a very dangerous, and toxic situation for the victim. Victims are completely devastated by the tactics of revenged obsessions and usually have to make great sacrifices in order to escape; other victims are murdered trying to escape. 

Who Are the Victims?

The target is usually a former partner or spouse. Other innocent people may also become targets – children, family members, friends, witnesses to the abuse or stalking can become victims too. This happens when  the revenge-obsessed ex perceives any sign of support or assistance to the victim as a personal blow – their attitude is “you are either for me or against me”. If perceived “against me”, the revenge-obsessed ex will wage all out war.

Children are especially vulnerable to revenge-obsessed ex, who know they can gain access to a former victim through the children. Or, alternately, can inflict pain and torment the victim by using the child as a weapon. Some tactics include: Domestic Violence by Proxy, Parental Alienation, abusing a child (some children have been murdered), kidnapping a child and engaging in custody disputes or financially devastating an ex partner through the legal system using family court, child support or filing financial claims and justifying it is needed for “the children”.


The Stages of Revenge Obsession

As common with stalkers, perps have a familiar pattern of behavior, though their actions itself are often unpredictable. Revenge Obsessions starts with the perp feeling rejected or losing control over a person or relationship. The perp will not deal with the reality of the situation and instead begins to obsess and fantasize about ways to regain power and control, or to seek revenge against someone who wronged them.

Despite their frightening behavior, perps are good at charming people, and may even portray themselves as a victim. They solicit sympathy while attempting to make their partner look bad (victim-blaming, smear campaign, false allegations. etc). And find ways to justify or minimize their abusive behavior.

There are 6 stages or patterns common in cases of Revenge Obsession: Stages of Obsessive Ex Syndrome

The last stage noted in this article is a violent event. I would add that physical violence towards a person is not the only possibility but any form of carrying out a threat, inflicting harm or escalation of the abuse is possible. Ex-partners who wage lengthy legal battles,and use the court or legal system in order to punish a target, should be considered part of the violent stage. Other forms of violence may be tormenting a target until they give in to the demands against them, other targets give up their lives or what is important to them in order to escape; and some contemplate suicide.

A popular video portraying what I consider would be an obsessive ex is the song “Stuck Like Glue” by Sugarland; the video accurately portrays all of the stages of Revenge Obsession.

In the song, the perp feels that her ex-partner has wronged her by manipulating her feelings, and causing the love she had for him to die.

The perp sings “I am never letting this go…” and then begins to stalk the ex, and vandalize his home. When the police is called, the perp is unfazed. From the back of the squad car she gestures to the target, “call me“.  The perp also enlists a flying monkey in her stalking and harassment, and both scheme to stalk and  kidnap the victim from his home.

So What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

Identifying that you have been targeted is a big step – Safety-planning is crucial for victims of revenge obsession, especially for children involved.

Seek professional or legal advise. Safety planning could involve filing a protective order but there are also measures you can take to protect yourself as you go about your daily life.

Wikihow also offers some tips: How to Deal with an Obsessed Ex

Posted in Child Abuse, Crime, Domestic Violence, Parental Alienation/DV by Proxy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Arizona: Judge Issues Contempt Order Against DCS

Public Domain:

(Maricopa County, Arizona, July 2016) In an astounding move, Juvenile Court Judge Karen O’Connor is holding the Department of Child Safety (DCS) in contempt for ignoring three orders in a child’s case. 

In an order dated June 6, O’Connor directed DCS to implement a program to better train case managers in how to refer a case to disability services; and to put in place procedures to ensure that families receive the needed services.

If DCS does not have the training program in place by November 1st, a fine of up to $9,000 may be issued — the fine is adjusted to reflect the 3 month period where services to the child were delayed.

Read Full Story: 

Judge holds Arizona Department of Child Safety in contempt


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Something I Have Learned: There is Strength in Hope

After dealing with some challenges, I am happy to report that this summer has been amazing. While this blog was created to raise awareness about family court injustice, and to offer my case as an example of how failures in the court system can hurt families and children…it is about so much more. This blog has followed me through quite a journey… and I have come to believe that improving the state of a broken family court system is not only about addressing what is happening on a systemic level but also includes restoring individual lives, and families (on an personal level or as members of a community).  

So on a personal note…

I was talking to a friend tonight, and she brought to my attention the power in hope – that our ability to remain positive, and to envision a better outcome in times of strife is a strength.

I do alot of work raising awareness about abuse and injustice, and now want to take a moment to acknowledge some things that have inspired hope in me.

I went to the gas station and this mother was growing frustrated with her child, who was very active and touching all the low shelves in reach. The mother’s voice was getting loud, and she looked very overwhelmed. Clearly something happened in her day before she came to that store.

The cashier came from behind the counter, and asked the mother if she could give her child a treat. She said “yes” and he mixed up a bright red cherry slushie. The child happily slurped on his slushie, and calmed down. The mother continued shopping, stopped for a moment to pat her child’s head, and went on her way.

When I was alone in the store with the cashier he told me something to the effect of “I could really see that she was stressin’, and I wanted to do something to help… I didn’t know what I could do because I’m not all that great with kids but I know alot come in the store to get those slushies. And I thought that would make him happy.” It was amazing to see how that small act of kindness changed the atmosphere in the store, and for the mother, gave her a minute’s reprieve to continue shopping. The lesson in this – alot of things may be out of our control but we do have possibility in that one moment to make a difference, we can use what we do have control over to effect a positive change. 

Another event that has really inspired me is spending some extra time with my kiddos this summer. Even though my custody situation is not 100% where I want it to be – again going back to “the moment” idea – I have learned that taking the moments I do have, and being creative with my time and talents goes a long way.  My kids and I have found ways to communicate, and to affirm our bond when we are apart. My daughter and I swap books back and forth because we share a love of reading. And my son and I share a mutual love for art, in our projects we find each other. This too is bonding. Despite what we have been through, my children and I share an extremely close, and loving relationship.

And finally, I do have to acknowledge that I could not have gone through this process of growth and healing alone. I am so thankful for my support network – my friends, family, my church.. the professionals I work with, and in turn, I offer my support and prayer to other parents. No one should go through this experience alone or feeling alone. 

So I post this candle to remind of the strength in hope.

~ Emily Court


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Law Offers Protection to Pets in Homes where Violence in Present (Massachusetts, 2012)

Animal Rights Quotes:

(October 31, 2012, Massachusetts) New legislation has passed to protect pets whose owners are victims of domestic violence, and who have received a protective order.

Changes made to the General Laws (Section 50 of Chapter 209, Section 11) includes pets in harassment orders filed by their owners, “The court may order the defendant to refrain from abusing, threatening, taking, interfering with, transferring, encumbering, concealing, harming or otherwise disposing of such animal…If the court makes a finding that such an imminent threat of bodily injury to a person or domesticated animal exists, the court shall notify the appropriate law enforcement officials of such finding and the law enforcement officials shall take all necessary actions to execute any such outstanding warrant as soon as is practicable.” MA Session Law 2012

Violence against pets is common in relationships involving domestic abuse. 70% of domestic violence victims report an abusive partner threatened to hurt or to kill a pet.

Other victims may not leave the abuse because they are afraid of what will happen to a pet if they go. Pets are usually not accepted into domestic violence shelters, though there are some animal shelters that can help. Another problem — and this happened to me — is that if you can not return home, and have to find somewhere else to live, that place may not take pets, and you could be forced to give up a loved animal.

The Massachusetts law has been credited with saving the life of many animals. If you would like to protect animals from domestic violence, and offer reassurance to DV victims who are faced with the difficult choice of how to protects pet from abuse, please contact your state officials to urge them to extend laws, like the one offered in Massachusetts, to protect animals. 


Dog’s life saved thanks to new domestic violence law (

What’s new in animal law? By Kara Holmquist, January 2013

On a Personal Note… 

My pet disappeared, at the hands of my abusive ex, after I escaped an abusive relationship, and I believe he is dead. 

Mr. X threatened to harm my pet as a way to intimidate me, and specifically threatened “I will get rid of him” and  “I will take him to the shelter and have him put to sleep“. 

It took months to search all of the shelters in my city. A friend found an animal matching the description of my pet brought to the shelter just days after I fled my home, and the animal was gassed to death.

My pet was a healthy animal. He loved the children but feared my abuser. He was absolutely beautiful. And gentle. My daughter would play with him, and try to dress him up. My son would scoot under the furniture to pet him, and fall asleep with his face tucked into the soft fur of my pet’s neck. I miss my pet dearly.

My daughter was just a toddler when she fled the home and does not have many memories of that time but somehow she has locked onto a memory of our pet. She carries a stuffed animal around, named after the pet. Even as she is growing into a young teen, my daughter has not forgotten… and cuddles the stuffed animal as she sleeps.

I am thankful for the new pet I have, she has truly been a source of comfort.

❤ x❤ x❤ – Free for commercial use, No attribution required.

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(Repost) Must Read!!! Family Court and NSA Whistleblowers: What They Have in Common

“As a concerned citizen, this should send chills down your spine. When our own government is secretly expanding power beyond that authorized by our Constitution to spy on mainstream Americans, we rely on whistleblowers the same way we did Paul Revere to warn us of danger….

But while the public has been informed of the whistleblower heroics at the NSA, a far greater abuse of power has quietly gone unnoticed in our nation’s divorce and family courts. Here judges have exceeded authority well beyond their constitutional limits as impartial decision makers using our children as their pretext. They have wielded power which even the NSA, IRS and FBI do not enjoy for investigating and controlling our private lives.” ~ Administrator at Blog Site, Leon

Featured Image -- 979      indigo2

Welcome to Leon Koziol.Com


By Administrator at Blog Site, Leon

A recent flurry of news articles feature the National Security Administration (NSA), Hillary’s e-mail scandal and whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake, John Crane, Diane Roark, William Binney, among others. In both The Guardian and Drudge Report, for example, a survey is provided to learn whether whistleblower protection laws really work. Its conclusion: they protect no one.

As a concerned citizen, this should send chills down your spine. When our own government is secretly expanding power beyond that authorized by our Constitution to spy on mainstream Americans, we rely on whistleblowers the same way we did Paul Revere to warn us of danger. Apathy and ignorance usher in a new era of autocratic control and eradication of rights that our military and law enforcement sacrifice themselves for each day.

But while the public has been informed of the whistleblower heroics at the NSA, a…

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2 Year Old Child Dies in Foster Care: Foster Father Nathan Jackson Sr. had Criminal History, Admitted Drug User

(June 2016, Beltrami County) The recent death of a two-year old child in a Minnesota foster home is yet another tragic example of systemic failures, and neglect happening in the foster care system, and the devastating impact on the children it is supposed to protect.

Nathan Daniel Jackson Sr (DOB 10/29/1977) is charged with manslaughter, and murder in the second degree, in the death of a two-year old foster care child named Kira Friedman that he was caring for. Jackson was licensed as a foster care provider despite a lengthy criminal history; he has also admitted to being a drug user. Jackson lived in the home with his fiancee Amanda White, in total the couple was caring for 7 children (2 foster children). 

Nathan Jackson Sr (Beltrami County Jail)

According to the  Criminal Complaint Nathan Jackson, Beltrami County On June 5, 2016, officers responded to the home Nathan Jackson shared with his fiancee Amanda White at 11:30 am with reports of an unresponsive child. The child, Kira Friedman, was found lying on her back in a toddler bed, and was pronounced dead. Affidavits filed by police also noted bruises and cuts on Kira’s body as well as a reddish-pink fluid running from her nose. The affidavits also mentioned blood detected on a wall near the shower and on the front of the washer and dryer.

Amanda White said they typically bathe Kira in a bathtub upstairs. However, on that morning, Nathan Jackson Sr. woke around 7:30 am to give Kira a shower (in another level of the home, downstairs) after she soiled her bed. Jackson left  left the room for a period of time, and Kira was unsupervised. An 18 gallon plastic bin, with no holes, used for laundry was also left inside the running shower. When Jackson returned, he found Kira inside of the plastic bin of water. Jackson pulled Kira out of the bin and noted “she didn’t seem right” but didn’t think the situation was that bad. Jackson did not call for an ambulance but instead dressed her and put her back to bed.

At the time of her death, Kira was non-verbal and had recently learned to walk. It is questionable if Kira had the ability to climb into the tub. And second, why would you leave a vulnerable, non-verbal child alone at all, let alone in a shower?

Amanda White put Kira to bed at 9:30 pm the night before and apparently slept through the entire incident. She was woken up by one of her children that told her that Kira was not breathing and went downstairs to check on her, and found the child unresponsive. If the report is accurate, that means Amanda White was sleeping in bed until at least 10-11 am with 7 children running around the house – which is an indicator of neglect, these children need to be fed, clothed and properly supervised and cared for. It is also revealing that a child noticed that Kira was not well before an adult did.

A preliminary autopsy report indicated that Kira died of freshwater drowning.

How Nathan Jackson Sr. and Amanda White were approved and licensed to provide foster care is not only appalling but demonstrates serious flaws, and neglect, in the administration and procedures of the foster care agency that handled this case, and in the foster system itself, overall:

  • Nathan Jackson and Amanda White were caring for 5 children of their own plus two foster child. How the foster care agency determined that this family was fit to care for 7 children, including at least one with special needs, needs to be answered.
  • A CPS investigator was told that Jackson was using meth and other drugs; he also told detectives that he has a drug problem. After arrest, Jackson gave a urine sample, which was tested for methamphetamine abuse, results have not been released. This guy is using meth and no one notices anything strange or unusual about his behavior??
  • Jackson was licensed as a foster care provider despite a lengthy criminal record that includes convictions for assault 5th degree, DWI, theft, various traffic offenses including two separate convictions of failing to seat belt a child.
  • Jackson was discharged from probation on June 12, 2015 in connection to a conviction for “Theft-Take/Use/Transfer Movable Prop-No Consent”. Which means Jackson was likely licensed for foster care while still on probation.

WDAZ-TV reports that a foster care agency on the Leech Lake Reservation is responsible for the placement of Kira, which means the Indian Child Welfare Act will factor into how this foster care agency was regulated, and how this case was handled.

This foster care agency, in my opinion, should be immediately have its license suspended with protective orders issued for each child in its care.  The agency should be thoroughly investigated, and audited, not only for the circumstances surrounding this child’s death but to also assess if other children who have been placed in foster homes are safe, and receiving the care they deserve.

At the time of this posting, Jackson remains held in the Beltrami County Jail.


Bemidji foster parent charged with manslaughter in death of 2-year-old who drowned in bin in shower (Brainerd Dispatch)

Charges: Admitted drug user left 2-year-old foster girl to drown (Star Tribune)

Charges: 2-year-old girl drowned after foster parent left her alone in the shower (Bring Me the News)


An Angel for the Children Who Have Died in Foster Care ~ We Will Fight For Justice in Your Memory (Public Domain)

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Six Children Removed From Filthy, Unsafe Home of Former DCF Worker

(Osceola County, Florida: May 2016)Investigators removed six children from a filthy home infested with trash, feces, rotten food and infested with insects. The home is owned by parents Randy and Kysa Donawa.  Kysa was formerly employed by the Department of Children and Families as a Child Protective Investigator but since had been fired. DCF said upon hearing of Kysa’s arrest, that she was in training at the time and did not carry a caseload.

The Narcotics Enforcement Team executed a search warrant on the home and also found  26 marijuana plants, 8 grams of marijuana, counterfeit money and a handgun in the home. Randy and Kysa Donawa, were arrested and each was charged with Production of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and 6 counts of Child Neglect. Both have since bonded out of the Osceola County Jail.

The children have been family members, a judge called the home “an immediate danger.”

Randy Donawa, and his wife, Kysa. (PHOTO/Osceola County Sheriff’s Office).


Children found living in feces, bug-filled home in Kissimmee (WFTV 9)

DCF investigator, husband charged with child neglect, possession of marijuana (Wesh News)

Former DCF investigator, husband charged with child neglect

Sheriff’s Office News Releases – Two Suspects Arrested for Drug Charges and Child Neglect



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Judge Judy Supports the Use of Cameras in the Courtroom: “Fortunately, I Have Cameras in My Courtroom”

The American public pays a whole lot for a justice system and I don’t see any reason they don’t get to see every way it functions and if it doesn’t function well, they can change it.” – Judge Judy

Judge Judy says in her interview with Stephen Colbert that she has cameras in her courtroom and believes that the Supreme Court should also have cameras in their courtroom. The interview suggests in a broader sense that cameras should be installed in American courtrooms in the interest of justice, and judicial accountability.

Judge Judy also says that cameras are needed because transcripts of a trial can not show what is actually happening in the courtroom, including the demeanor of a witness and their body language. Judge Judy says that body language offers clues that she uses to determine the truthfulness of a witness. Similarly, cameras would record the statements of the judge, attorneys and other court officers and accurately record their demeanor in the courtroom.

According to the United States Court website (“History of the Courts“) there is protocol where a judge can authorize the use of cameras in the courtroom.

A judge may authorize broadcasting, televising, recording, or taking photographs in the courtroom and in adjacent areas during investitive, naturalization, or other ceremonial proceedings. A judge may authorize such activities in the courtroom or adjacent areas during other proceedings, or recesses between such other proceedings, only:

1) for the presentation of evidence;
2) for the perpetuation of the record of the proceedings; 
3) for security purposes; 
4) for other purposes of judicial administration;  
5) for the photographing, recording, or broadcasting of appellate arguments; or 
6) in accordance with pilot programs approved by the Judicial Conference.” 

Do you think cameras should be installed in America’s courtrooms, including family court? Please post your thoughts in the comments section below! 


The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

History of Cameras in Courts

Available Court Videos – View video recordings of the cases from the District Court for the Northern District of California, the District Court of Guam, and the District Court for the Western District of Washington. Filter by court, subject matter, and procedural posture to find the case you want to view.

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