The National Family Court Watch Project (NFCWP) launched a pilot effort with eight volunteers who observed 201 hearings held by 24 judges in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Rhode Island. Since the pilot, we expanded our observations to include NJ and have observed 649 family court proceedings. The organization leaders have presented the project at various conferences to inform, develop and recruit volunteers in all 50 states.
The National Family Court Watch Project believes that large-scale data will reveal national trends and ignite a call for change in the family court system. The project is a conversation springboard and a “quiet observer” to get a sense of what’s happening in the family courts, report those findings publicly through a new conduit, and work with judges and the public to find solutions.
Volunteers attend hearings and flag problems such as litigants without legal representation, language barriers, representation not being prepared, family violence issues, especially child protection, or hearings postponed. Court watchers are:
- Interested citizens.
- Law students.
- Senior citizens.
- Student interns from various undergrad programs
- Graduate programs of study.
- University professors are offering this project to their students as a class project.
Additionally, any organization wanting to work on a community effort can volunteer for this project.
The NFCWP is the first known program to use a standardized observational instrument nationwide. We observe and report trends that the data collection reveals. The ultimate goal is to work with the public and judicial system to create methods and procedures that help resolve the problems we find in family courts across the country.
Renee E. Beeker BS, MA
Founder, President and Treasurer
Renee Beeker is the founder and President of the National Family Court Watch Project. A speaker and advocate for reform of the judicial system since 1996, Renee is a respected contributing member to many professional and grassroots organizations. Renee has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences around the United States. Renee’s article, “The Illusion of Protection Uncovered: Review of the Special Journal Issue on Child Custody and Domestic Violence,” published in the February/March 2006 issue of the Domestic Violence Report.
Renee designed a comprehensive Court Watch observational instrument that is being used in the National Family Court Watch Project. Renee serves on various committees both in her state and nationally. Renee holds a Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Mount Union, Ohio, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Communications from Eastern Michigan University
Paul Holdorf Esq.
Co-Founder, Vice President, Secretary
Paul is a retired New York corporate lawyer who later volunteered with Trial Lawyers Care to help 9/11 victims. In 2006 Paul co-founded the National Family Court Watch project, serves as a officer on the board and is the project and data director.
Mary A. Levy
Mary Levy is retired office manager and 4 year cancer survivor. Mary became involved with the National Family Court Watch Project several years ago and currently serves as Vice President on the board. Having no experience with the legal system she became very concerned with need to protect children. Improving family court system for families, especially children, is an important step.
Lisa Fischel-Wolovick, JD, MSW
Lisa Fischel-Wolovick, JD, MSW is an attorney who has represented battered women for thirty years. She is the author of numerous publications including her recent book: Traumatic Divorce and Separation: The impact of domestic violence and substance abuse in custody and divorce, published by Oxford Univ. Press in 2018. She also helped to organize the first Criminal Court that specialized in domestic violence in New York State. Before becoming an attorney, she obtained her master’s in social work and worked in hospital social work, which included advocacy and counseling for battered women. She is currently an adjunct Associate Professor at the City University of New York, John Jay’s College Graduate Program in Forensic Psychology, where she teaches courses in Family Violence and Child Maltreatment, and a speaker on domestic violence, child custody, and trauma.
A Michigan business owner/operator, along with her husband, of AAA Blue Star Safe and Lock. Her business offers basic lock remedies for the homeowner and security solutions for the business owner. Denise has been dispatching jobs and handling the business finances for over 30 years. Her daughters also join her in the family business to ensure the company continues to provide personal care and great customer service. Denise devoted some 15 years to teaching children who attended her home church. As a mother of two and grandmother to more, she cares deeply about the safety of families caught in the family court system.
Chief Technology Officer
Daniel Beeker is a veteran of the USAF and has been involved in the electronics industry for more than 42 years. He is currently a Senior Principal Engineer at NXP Semiconductor. He has lived in Michigan since 1987. Daniel has been involved with the National Family Court Watch Project since its inception, providing technical and accounting support.
Sheldon Wolberg is owner of Micro Logic Inc. of West Bloomfield Michigan. We design and manufacture Electronic Products for the Automotive, Industrial, and Commercial markets. He has a B.S.E. in Engineering from the University of Michigan and has been in business for over 35 years. He was born and lived all his life in Michigan and is married and has 2 children who are both in college. He is a long time associate of Renee Beeker and instrumental in bringing the NFCWP website up to full functionality.