Monitoring: In the Courtroom

Courtroom Monitoring & Survivor Support

Parking.

Depending on the courthouse, there may be a lot of metered spaces. At 26th & California’s courthouse there is also pay garage. Sometimes taking the bus with a group can be arranged. Contact us if you’d like to travel in a group.

Timing.

Get there early – at least 30 minutes prior to the court time.

Security lines can be long. They can go quickly or slowly. We’d like to let our client or the person we are supporting see us, so please be early to allow us to be present for them.

Where to Meet.

It is best to meet The OutJustice Foundation representatives, who will either hold signage or be wearing t-shirts to identify themselves, outside of the courthouse.

If at 26th & California, there is a large staircase, then large cement area with lights, some planters, and stone bench. Meet us outside of the courthouse at least 30 minutes prior to the court time listed for the case in this area.

If weather is unpleasant, we will meet inside where possible and likely have a least one representative trying to manage the weather waiting outside for you. This is why it is key to keep in contact with us. Please use the phone numbers provided to let us know if you are running behind or not attending. We love your involvement and we love communication in times like this!

Security.

The sheriff lines will immediately split the group into perceived male and female.

If your gender presentation does not match that of what the sheriffs who are working the door that day expect, please just do what you can to get through.  If the sheriffs tell you to do something, you need to do it (unless of course you find it offensive or impossible).  In that case, the sheriffs will have the right to ask you to leave. They run the building.

Most of the officers have a rule they follow:  If you are a man, a man must search you.  If you are a female, a woman must search you.  They aren’t always as flexible with this as we would like.

The OutJustice Foundation representatives will be at the door to assist you. If comfortable with us, please alert us to any concerns you have (and please do be comfortable with us!) and we will do our best to prepare you to get through security without hassle or stress.

NOT permissible in the Court House.

They will NOT allow anyone to bring phones, cameras, food, weapons (or anything the officers perceive or believe be used as a weapon), extra clothing, or chargers / cords of any kind.  Please leave them at home or in your car!

How to Dress / Look / Present Yourself.

There is no major dress code; however we ask that you work with our representatives on our preferred “look” for the day / case.

We may ask you to wear an OutJustice Foundation t-shirt, or we may ask that you dress up. We may even ask, depending on the case, that you try to present as conservatively as possible.

Please cooperate.

This is not the place for you or for the person we are there to support to be pushing social norms. There is a very real result coming from these court hearings. Please speak to us directly if you have concerns about how to present or your personal beliefs in looking / presenting in a particular way. Trust us, there are places for that – this is likely not going to be one of them.

Also note, you are representing The OutJustice Foundation and our community. We aren’t there for you or the organization necessarily – we are there more than likely for our entire community but most likely the person who we are literally there to support. They don’t need us to be political beyond standing for their rights. Questions? Please ask.

Some Guidelines:

  • Do not wear hats.  You will have to remove it in the courtroom anyway, so leave it at home if you can.
  • If we are wearing OutJustice Foundation t-shirts, then jeans/shorts are fine to accompany them.
  • Please watch out for gang colors. Don’t wear them.
  • T-shirts with political statements on them – bad. Again, if we are dressing down, we ask that you are there with your OutJustice Foundation t-shirt on. If you do not have one, please make arrangements with the coordinator for the court hearing or contact us.

Etiquette.

You have to be quiet in court. Any outburst could not only get you locked up or kicked out, but could also jeopardize how welcoming court will be to The OutJustice Foundation in the future. Remember at all times that when you are with us, you are representing us – act accordingly. 

Treat this the way you would consider an important and calm type of service one could expect in a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, and so forth. Treat it as a solemn occasion, please. For the survivor(s).

  • It is important to remember that you have to do what sheriffs say.
  • The judge can throw you in jail. It’s obnoxious, perhaps (OK, yes it is), but they do have that power. If you have questions about our criminal legal system, contact us.
  • Do NOT interact with the offenders. 
  • Do NOT interact with any of their family or friends who may be in court. Not even in your facial expressions.
  • If any of those we are not speaking to attempt to engage you, do not respond. Direct them to The OutJustice Foundation’s representative, who will be with you and likely jump in to handle the situation before you even get the chance to be concerned.
  • And NEVER speak to the media. If you are approached by a representative from the media, or if someone is asking you questions about the case, do NOT answer their questions; Direct them immediately to the media spokesperson for The OutJustice Foundation. If you do not know who that is, simply have The OutJustice Foundation’s representatives there assist you to help them find the person who is trained in media interactions and knows our message for the day and generally. If you are interested in becoming a future spokesperson, let us know.

What to Expect Inside the Courtroom.

You may have questions now before we go in. And we welcome those questions.

The more prepared you feel, the more comfortable you will be while there and the more comfortable we will be with your understanding and ability and willingness to act in accordance with our above requirements.

Sometimes things can be surprising or hurtful to see or hear. Court hearings can be ugly experiences.

Those we support often explain that the “gay bashing” they feel in the courtroom is worse than discrimination or physical attacks that brought them there. It’s the system – those who should be protecting us not attacking us – after all who are there directing blame toward the victim. “Blame the victim” is normally the defense attorney or attorneys’ methods of defending indefensible actions by their clients.

You may:

  • hear graphic discussions about violence, sexual activity, or even perceived sexual activity or what it means to be a queer person by ignorant persons,
  • see horrifying photographs,
  • witness what can only, as we’ve said, feel like disgusting further attacks and discrimination by attorneys, court representatives, judges, and so forth.

It isn’t always friendly.

And the impact of sitting in court with offenders, or walking out at the same time as them when court is over, can be overwhelming. We understand.

After the hearing.

We will reflect with anyone following the hearing. We won’t simply run off, so if you wish to speak or have questions, please be patient in case The OutJustice Foundation representative must speak with anyone, including potentially the media, before we can address your questions. This is very important. We will be there for you; please just be patient.

We are also there for you if it is after we have separated to go home / to work and you need to ask a question or find an appropriate outlet.

We are hear for you. Contact us.

OVERALL Remember:

Be Quiet. Be RespectfulRegardless of how we’re screaming inside.

AND THANK YOU for supporting The OutJustice Foundation and the survivor(s) by participating in the program. Please do not run off without providing your contact information to us if you come late or have not been directly in contact with us in the past. We’d love to speak with you about your experience and get you involved in future court dates.