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Involvement opportunity for Speech & Debate students

Sent: Wed Jul 15, 2015 • 10:52 AM PDT
From: weatherby@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Involvement opportunity for Speech & Debate students

This opportunity is from an MVLA Alum who wanted to make students aware of this program.


The July session has passed, but there is an additional session in September.   If students are interested, they should contact Jennifer Redding or Eva as outlined at the bottom of the e-mail.



Greetings –

Are you concerned with recent events regarding the mistreatment of people of color in the criminal justice system and the lack of accountability for others? Are you wondering how you can get involved in the ongoing civil rights movement that is taking place across our nation? Have you always been concerned but feel like now is the time to act? If so, then please consider participating in CourtWatch, a half-day program to help us learn and get involved in our criminal justice system.

My name is Eva Kahan, and I am an alumna of the MVLA Debate Program. This summer, I am interning at the Santa Clara Public Defense Office, and have been observing criminal court several days a week. Through this observation, I have not just been learning more about the community around me but also have begun to question how I can help to make our criminal justice system more fair and just for all involved. This program is run through the Bay Area Public Defenders for Social Change, an organization that brings together passionate and active citizens in order to create change within our community.

As Public Defenders and as citizens, we are very concerned with the process that takes place within our courtrooms. We are all too aware of the injustices and mistreatment many of our low-income clients and clients of color endure as they attempt to navigate the harsh realities of the criminal justice system. We have formed a Racial Justice Committee and are actively working with the community to address these injustices within the criminal justice system. As zealous advocates, we are often so engaged with individual cases and clients, we are not always in the ideal position to make a truly objective assessment of how criminal defendants and their families are treated within the courtroom.  To this end, we are enlisting the help of community members such as yourself to observe court through our CourtWatch program.

The purpose of CourtWatch is twofold – First, it is an important and unique opportunity for our community to truly see what happens every day inside of a criminal courtroom.  Second, the overriding goal of the CourtWatch program is to collect objective and anecdotal information to facilitate change within the criminal justice system. As we all know, opinions and experiences from those from within the system, especially criminal defendants, are viewed with skepticism at best. It is usually not until outsiders speak up that people in positions of power listen and change occurs. To that end, CourtWatch, much like police accountability groups and individuals who use cell phones to record possible unjust events, is a vehicle to hold the system accountable to those it serves – us.

Thus, we ask for your help.

The CourtWatch Program consists of the following:

1.       Next session: July 14th or later on in September
2.       Participate at: 120 W Mission St., San Jose, CA
3.       AM or PM session: AM (8:30am – 12:30pm) or PM (1:00PM – 4:30PM)
4.       Fill out a brief questionnaire while observing court!
5.       Debrief with one of our attorneys who will be available to you throughout the entire process

If you are able to participate on July 14th or are interested in participating in September, please contact Jennifer Redding at Jennifer.Redding@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx or 408-299-7179. For more background information, like the Facebook page at . With more questions for a fellow student, contact Eva Kahan at eva.hannah1@xxxxxxxxx or call or text at 650-417-5042!

Take care,

Eva Kahan




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