Avid Court Watcher Fiona Apple Shares Video Message About Breach Of Constitutional Rights: “It Really Seems Like They’re Retaliating Against Us”

Avid Court Watcher Fiona Apple Shares Video Message About Breach Of Constitutional Rights: “It Really Seems Like They’re Retaliating Against Us”

In the increasingly lengthy spaces between album releases, Fiona Apple finds productive ways to spend her time. Recently, that has involved becoming an avid court watcher. What is court watching? It’s a lot more than just weighing in on major Supreme Court decisions, as Apple did after the Roe v. Wade reversal. The American Bar Association explains:

The right of public access to court proceedings is enshrined in the Constitution. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives the public and press a right of access to court proceedings, while the Sixth Amendment gives individuals facing criminal charges the right to a public trial. Requiring the work of the courts to be conducted in public view provides an important check on the potential for abuse of power, allowing observers to better understand how the justice system operates and enhancing public confidence in the courts.

Apple does not run a public Twitter account of her own, but she sometimes sends messages through intermediaries such as her roommate Zelda Hallman. Today she has posted a multi-part video message via civil rights attorney Scott Hechinger, who writes, “She’s become an avid, trained Court Watcher. Her observations helped people jailed pretrial file a civil rights lawsuit. Then came the retaliation. Shut off her access to court.”

In a series of eight video segments, Apple explains what she’s observed in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where she’s been watching court proceedings since the pandemic forced many of them online. She lists off dysfunctions, demeaning treatment of people, violations of constitutional rights, and a lack of transparency from pretrial services, a branch of the court system that has the right to trump a judge’s ruling and detain people who’ve been released on bond. She explains how interactions with the court system can compound, leading to difficulties for you and your dependents and, often, further incarceration.

Apple then gets into the specifics of her current situation. She says she and other court watchers in Prince George’s County funneled their findings into a lawsuit against pretrial services, after which their access to Zoom was revoked. Now they can only hear audio of poorly miked courtrooms, with judges that sound like adults in a Peanuts cartoon or an intercom in the New York subway system. “How are we supposed to have our constitutional rights to observe these courts or help these people if we can’t hear?” Apple asks. “And why did they take away this access right after this lawsuit was dropped? It really seems like they’re retaliating against us. And if they’re retaliating against us, I mean, man, what stupid asshole babies, huh?”

Here’s a 10-minute video with Apple’s full message:

And here it is as a thread with Hechinger’s commentary:

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