Domestic Violence: Technical Assistance
The goal of the Domestic Violence Court Technical Assistance Project, an initiative of the Center for Court Innovation, is to help court systems enhance their handling of domestic violence cases. The project is designed to guide communities through the planning and implementation of a new domestic violence court or the enhancement of an existing domestic violence court—and to equip planners with skills and knowledge to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of the court. The Center is dedicated to offering assistance that is responsive to the needs, resources, and challenges of our clients.
The Center helped establish New York's first domestic violence court in 1996. Since 1996, the Brooklyn Domestic Violence Court has served as a model for dozens of violence courts. A more recent development in New York State is the integrated domestic violence court in which a single judge handles criminal domestic violence cases and related family issues, such as custody, visitation, civil protection orders, and matrimonial actions. The Center also helped create Brooklyn's Youthful Offender Domestic Violence Court is the first court to address exclusively misdemeanor domestic violence cases involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19. Today, there are nearly 300 courts nationwide that have special processing mechanisms for domestic violence cases.
With support from the Office on Violence Against Women, the Center is able to provide a variety of services free of charge, including on-site support, site visits to domestic violence courts, peer-to-peer contacts, and planning materials. The Center also develops publications and Internet materials of special interest to a domestic violence court audience both nationally and internationally.
Join our Domestic Violence Programs Newsletter to receive information about resources, trainings, and research.
The Center’s services include:
- Site visits to domestic violence courts
- Hands-on assistance
- Planning toolkit
- Evaluation/research tools
- Domestic violence training for non-judicial personnel
Site visits to domestic violence courts
Site visits are one of the best vehicles for introducing planners to the concepts and practice of domestic violence courts. Over the years, the Center has conducted structured tours for visitors to the Brooklyn Felony Domestic Violence Court, Queens Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Court, and New York's various other domestic violence courts and integrated domestic violence courts, including Westchester, Suffolk County, and Queens.
On a typical site visit, visitors will:
- see the courtroom in action and meet the judge;
- meet project staff and other key stakeholders, who will be available to answer questions;
- obtain sample documents; and
- brainstorm new approaches to problems back home.
The Center for Court Innovation provides intensive one-on-one assistance in the planning, implementation, and enhancement of integrated domestic violence courts and domestic violence courts.
Assistance is available in five main areas:
1. NEEDS ASSESSMENT
A needs assessment helps pinpoint pressing local problems, providing quantitative and qualitative data to sharpen planners’ understanding of the issues at hand.
2. PLANNING DOCUMENT
Once the problems have been clearly defined, the Center can help planners create a detailed planning document that spells out the scope and goals of a court and outlines its policies and procedures.
3. PROJECT DEVELOPMENT
Armed with a clear, detailed idea about how to proceed, the Center can make it happen by helping clients identify ways to overcome hurdles and obstacles, and devise new ways to engage the community and potential government partners.
The Center can then help planners evaluate the project by establishing performance measures and measuring its actual impact on victims and offenders.
Finally, the Center can assist with troubleshooting, helping program managers analyze operations and make mid-course adjustments.
This guidebook can offer practical, step-by-step instruction for all phases of the planning process, including:
- Creation of a planning team
- Development of a work plan
- Design of a data-collection and needs-assessment strategy
- System mapping and analysis of current domestic violence case flow and caseload
- Community resource assessment
Center for Court Innovation researchers are available to conduct original research, including both impact and process evaluations, and to assist local jurisdictions in setting performances measures for domestic violence programs.
The Center has produced a number of publications on domestic violence courts; click here to read the Center’s domestic violence court-related publications, or visit the Research page to learn more about the Center’s research team and its projects.
Center for Court Innovation experts provide customized workshops, panels, and trainings to practitioners and court personnel interested in the principles of domestic violence courts and integrated domestic violence courts, domestic violence dynamics, cultural competency, sexual assault and domestic violence, and other topics as requested. Speakers from the Center have participated in conferences across the U.S. and internationally.