These days, Fiona Apple works on her own schedule, and she only really interacts with the world when she wants, whether it’s contributing a song to Amazon’s Lord Of The Rings TV show or, more often, advocating for an important cause. Since 2021, Fiona Apple has been involved with court watching — observing what happens in publicly accessible courtrooms, especially during bail hearings, and documenting what happens there. Now, Apple has scored a new short film about the importance of court watching, and she also serves as one of the film’s narrators.
Since the pandemic, many courts have held hearings on Zoom, which allows people to watch what’s happening in courtrooms from anywhere. Strangers can keep tabs on hearings and tell the world about the injustices that they see. In 2021, Fiona Apple signed up with Court Watch PG, a court watching organization based in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Last year, Apple spoke angrily about how she’d seen judges abusing people’s Constitutional rights.
The Washington Post reports that Fiona Apple has never been to Prince George’s County but that she got involved with Court Watch PG, the country’s biggest virtual court watching organization, after she helped out with a campaign called Gasping For Justice. Apple has since become a dedicated courtwatcher, and she’s become friends with Court Watch PG director Carmen Johnson, who was formerly incarcerated.
Talking to The Washington Post, Fiona Apple says that her involvement is partly inspired by her own 2012 arrest for drug possession in Texas: “It was drugs, it was hash. I wasn’t violent. But I could have gone away for 10 years, you know? And that’s happening to people all of the frickin’ time. It’s happening to people every day. For less.”
A new short film advocates for a centralized national network of court watchers, and it’s got a pretty and propulsive Fiona Apple score, mostly built around piano and keyboard. Apple also plays a voice role in the film, telling her own story of court watching and appearing in comic-book drawing form. (The main narrator is actor Jesse Williams, from Grey’s Anatomy.) Watch it below.