|Danielle Simpson, JD|
Citizen’s CourtWatch is a part of Community Prosecution, which is a specialized unit within the Fulton County District Attorney’s office. CourtWatch is a national program, and began here with a federal grant in 2000. To date Fulton Country is the only District Attorney’s office that has implemented such a program.
|Keith Lamar, |
Assistant District Attorney
The Citizen’s CourtWatch program is overseen by Danielle and as the only coordinator for all of Fulton County, she has a big job. The mission of Citizen’s CourtWatch is to educate citizens about the court system and to encourage participation in the system through attendance at hearings and by offering impact statements.
This input helps the courts make decisions about sentencing and gives citizens a voice regarding the impact of crime on our community. Participation also supports the police and prosecution to successfully convict repeat offenders and helps to ensure that court decisions are consistent with community values
Danielle walked us through the process for an arrestee from first appearance through bond, preliminary hearings, pleas, trials and sentencing. Here is a link to some more information about that process
She explained how cases are selected to be tried by community prosecutors (as opposed to other departments within the District Attorney’s office) and how cases being handled by other departments are monitored. Finally she explained the process for CourtWatchers to attend and speak in court.
Though this brief session provided a great deal of information, a larger full training is being planned for late in the summer. This event will likely be held on a Saturday and will include representatives and speakers from throughout the criminal justice system. If you would like to be on Danielle’s distribution to be notified about this training, send her an email message at [email protected] or call her at 678-638-9263.
In the meantime, John and other CourtWatchers from the neighborhood will try to attend court whenever relevant cases come up, and will keep you posted on the outcome. This program may also serve as a good way to monitor the decisions of the judges we have elected and to determine if they deserve their seat on the bench.