Regardless of what brings you to the court to collect information for writing an observation paper, pulling together a well-done piece is a relatively simple process. It could be for a class, or it could be for your own education about the legal system. It combines the human element that has gathered in the courtroom with facts that reveal the case being observed.
Purpose of a Court Observation
Everyone is affected by the legal system in some way or another. Whether it’s the process it took for the identification card in your wallet or the paperwork you signed in order to live in your home, the law touches people in many ways. Understanding the law, and being comfortable entering places of law, is a good skill. Students attend court in order to examine their personal reactions to the legal system. The court observation allows you to analyze whether the preconceived notions you had before entering the courtroom stay with you when you rise to leave. The confirmation of your feelings or ideas, as well as reflections on why they may have changed, makes up the point of the paper.
Write the Introduction
The reason you chose the proceeding is vital to the overall point of the piece. It provides context to the reader as to what they may expect. The court observation needs to have the human element to draw the reader in and add depth to the legal aspects that can appear cold on paper.
If it’s a family court case then discuss what brought you to that particular room that day, such as a previous encounter or a current fascination with that area of law. If it’s a police altercation, how does it apply to you or explain what has drawn you to want to understand more about the legal ramifications of the incident.
Enter the court room with a sense of discovery. Describe the ambiance of the room, the gallery set up, people and the lawyers on each side. Describe the date, time of day and type of proceeding you are attending as well as how many other observers were seated around you or standing along the walls.
Write the Observation
Give a good sense of how crowded and cramped or empty and quiet the room felt as you sat through the proceedings. If the room emptied out quickly or filled up at a terse moment, those will be important facts to add character to the court observation. Describe the players in detail from your perspective. Was the judge loquacious or firm and silent? Did the lawyers seem to be respectful or tumble over each other’s movements as the case progressed? These details will enliven your court observation.