Domestic Violence Court

Overview

New York's criminal domestic violence courts build on a court model first established with the Brooklyn Felony Domestic Violence Court in 1996. These courts are characterized by a single presiding judge; dedicated on-site staff (including a court resource coordinator, victim advocate and representatives from defense and prosecution); and a coordinated community response between the justice system and community stakeholders.   Each component of the New York State domestic violence court model is designed to promote enhanced victim safety and offender accountability.

Currently there are over 35 domestic violence courts operating within Supreme, Criminal, and Justice courts in jurisdictions across the state, including the Bronx and Westchester County, the cities of Albany and Buffalo, smaller cities like Binghamton and Glens Falls, and the towns of Clarkstown and Fort Edward. 

How They Work

New York's Domestic Violence Courts include the following key elements:

Dedicated Judge: A single judge presides over cases from post-arraignment through sentencing and compliance.  This practice improves decision-making and ensures consistent and efficient case handling. 

On-going Monitoring: Intensive judicial supervision of these cases enables the court to hold offenders accountable by promoting compliance with orders of protection and other court mandates, such as program attendance, and to swiftly respond to violations.

Resource Coordinator: A resource coordinator collects and prepares offender and victim information for the judge, holds agencies accountable for accurate and prompt reporting, and is the court’s primary liaison with the community. 

On-Site Victim Advocate: The on-site victim advocate serves as primary linkage to services; creates safety plans, and coordinates housing, counseling, as well as other social services; and provides victims with information about criminal proceedings, and special conditions contained within their orders of protection.

Coordinated Community Response: A coordinated community response involves increased information sharing, communication and coordination among criminal justice agencies and community-based social services; a consistent and collaborative response to domestic violence; and more opportunities for continued education and training on domestic violence and the courts.

Results

New York's 75 domestic violence courts--based on a model created by the Center for Court Innovation--handle over 32,000 cases each year, linking victims to counseling, shelter, and other services while strengthening the monitoring of those accused of battering.

Partners

Partners include the New York State Unified Court System, county district attorneys, victim advocates, probation, law enforcement, civil attorneys, and the matrimonial bar

National Projects

The Center works with courts across the country (including Alabama, Mississippi and Vermont) to improve their court response to domestic violence. Click here to see our technical assistance page.

Featured Research

Publications

Combatting Domestic Violence in Indian Country: Are Specialized Domestic Violence Courts Part of the Solution?

Combatting Domestic Violence in Indian Country: Are Specialized Domestic Violence Courts Part of the Solution?

By Kathryn Ford

Domestic violence is one of the most pressing problems facing Native American and Alaska Native communities. Although the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act recognizes the authority of tribes to prosecute non-Native offenders, more tools are needed. This paper explores whether specialized domestic violence courts, which focus on enhancing victim safety and promoting offender accountability, can be part of a multi-faceted approach for tribal justice systems to address domestic violence.

 

Interviews

Supervised Visitation: The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's Unique Approach

Supervised Visitation: The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's Unique Approach

Katheryn Lotsos and Stephen Forrester from the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children discuss their organization’s approach to supervised visitation. Supervised visitation is frequently required by courts in child welfare or domestic violence cases and allows children to meet with non-custodial parents in a secure and controlled environment. The Society's therapeutic model includes safety planning, parent education classes, special training for the professionals supervising the visits, and close collaboration with the courts.

Audio

Rapid Response is a Priority for Domestic Violence Court in Boise, Idaho

Rapid Response is a Priority for Domestic Violence Court in Boise, Idaho

Judges Carolyn Minder and James Cawthon preside over the Ada County Domestic Violence Court in Boise, Idaho. The court is one of three domestic violence courts in the U.S. selected by the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women to serve as a mentor court, helping other courts develop more effective responses to domestic violence. In this episode of New Thinking, the judges explain how they divide their duties, work closely with the community, and promote rapid disposition of cases.

Contact
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