Trial monitoring group


We explore how and when racist knowledge, everyday racism and institutional racism become productive during court hearings and how, consequently, an effective right against racism is prevented. We go by the name “research-collective racism in court”.

(Liebscher D. et al.: Rassismus vor Gericht. Weiße Norm und Schwarzes Wissen im rechtlichen Raum. S. 136)



The research-collective is a group of social scientists and legal scholars. We are supported by committed courtroom sketch artists.


Institutional racism does not only occur within the police, but also in the judiciary. With our observations of trials, we aim to highlight this phenomenon. At the same time, we send a signal of solidarity to the persons concerned and raise awareness of trials and, more concretely, of the issue of racial profiling and institutional racism. Our overarching questions are:

  • How do the court and the practice of jurisdiction function?
  • Which rules and hierarchies structure the proceedings in court?
  • How are approval, credibility and legitimacy distributed and constructed and to whom are they awarded?
  • How is racism discussed, in which contexts is it mentioned, where is the term avoided?

An observation of a trial already begins before the start of the hearing, while waiting in front of the courtroom, at the entrance. We are interested in who is present, in the atmosphere, in reactions of visitors, possible supporters and of the employees of court. Furthermore, we note verbal and non-verbal actions and our own sentiments.

The precise questions that we ask ourselves during an observation can be found here:  Observation questions (in German)



The result of our first trial observation at the Bezirksgericht Zürich against Mohamed Wa Baile on 11 November 2016 is a detailed trial report, an analysis of racism, as well as an article in Jusletter and a collection of courtroom sketches.

Trial report (in German)

Analysis of racism at the trial (in German)

Article in Jusletter about trial observations (in German)

Courtroom sketches

Article in “augen auf” bulletin about immigration law (released 03/2018) (in German)



If you are interested in joining the ‘research-collective racism in court’ or in organising a trial observation yourself, do get in touch with us, and also if you have any remarks concerning the composed texts.

Further reading

  • Doris Liebscher / Juana Remus / Daniel Bartel (2014): Rassismus vor Gericht. Weiße Norm und Schwarzes Wissen im rechtlichen Raum, Kritische Justiz, 135 – 151.
  • Katharina Schönes / Sophie Schlüter (2016): Zur Ent-Thematisierung von Rassismus in der Justiz. Einblicke aus der Arbeit der Prozessbeobachtungsgruppe Rassismus und Justiz, in: Movements. Journal für kritische Migrations- und Grenzregimeforschung 2(1), 199 – 210.
  • Prozessbeobachtungsgruppe aus Berlin „Justiz Watch“: