History, Mission and Goals

History of Court Watch NOLA

Court Watch NOLA was founded in 2007 by the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region, Common Good, and Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans as a grassroots volunteer effort to bring greater transparency and efficiency to our criminal courts. Since then, CWN has recruited, trained, and supported volunteers in observing and reporting on whether our judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and other public servants are doing their jobs professionally, transparently, and without wasting taxpayer resources. CWN volunteers track hundreds of felony cases, and their daily and visible presence in the courtroom helps identify systemic problems while sending the message that our community cares about making the courts more accountable and just.

Originally just 15 volunteers watching 37 cases, CWN now boasts a diverse volunteer base tracking over 1,000 felonies. CWN compiles the results of the volunteers’ observations and publishes regular reports, and the organization is strictly nonpartisan and does not make candidate endorsements.


To promote reform in the Orleans Parish criminal court system through civic engagement and courtroom observation


  • To empower individuals through legal education to demand transparency and accountability of public officials
  • To increase public confidence in the Orleans Parish criminal courts
  • To increase criminal justice efficiency
  • To examine aggregate trends in the Orleans Parish criminal courts
  • To expand our volunteer base to reflect the diversity of all New Orleanian communities
  • To act as an objective agent to institute best practices in criminal justice