These specialized courts serve as resources for courts across the country by facilitating peer-to-peer learning and providing examples of effective practices.
Selected by the Office on Violence Against Women, domestic violence mentor courts are available to provide support to communities interested in implementing a specialized domestic violence court or enhancing their current responses to domestic violence cases. In addition to sharing sample forms and materials and lessons learned from their own community, they host site visits for visiting teams of judges, court personnel, and other criminal justice and domestic violence stakeholders. Site visits are an ideal way to benefit from the experience of other jurisdictions. 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.
If you are interested in learning more about a domestic violence court, please contact us. Travel costs are the responsibility of visiting teams, but some jurisdictions may be able to use current Office on Violence Against Women funding or other grant funds.
Active Mentor Courts
Ada County Domestic Violence Court, Idaho: A fast-track court disposing of cases in 58 days on average from arrest to sentencing based on the integrated domestic violence court model. A multi-agency team allows the court to implement several best practices, including: supervised probation; post-sentence judicial monitoring; evidence-based offender assessment and specialized treatment; and comprehensive case planning. Click here to listen to Judges James Cawthon and Carolyn Minder discuss the Ada County response to domestic violence.
The Beltrami County Domestic Violence Court and Coordinated Community Response Project brings together a multi-disciplinary team to handle misdemeanor through felony-level criminal intimate partner domestic violence cases from arrest through final disposition.
The Domestic Violence Department of the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court provides individualized on-site advocacy services and legal assistance to litigants requesting civil protection orders, and runs a dedicated docket staffed by two dedicated, specially trained hearing officers who handle all domestic violence civil protection order cases authorized under Ohio statute.
DeKalb County Compliance Project, Georgia: Seeks to create a victim-centered response to family violence protective order cases and ensure that respondents comply with Georgia law by enrolling in and completing a family violence intervention class. The court provides ongoing judicial oversight and mandatory check-ins with compliance officers from the moment a protective order is entered until the respondent is released from the project with a history of compliance.
Erie County, NY is home to two mentor court sites: The Erie County Integrated Domestic Violence Court and the Erie County Felony Domestic Violence Court.
The Erie County Integrated Domestic Violence Court is a specialized part of New York State Supreme Court developed to better serve families in crisis. Integrated domestic violence courts are dedicated to the idea of "One Family- One Judge," allowing a single judge to hear related cases involving domestic violence complainants and their families. The court has changed the way the justice system treats families and children by promoting more informed judicial decision-making, creating consistency in orders of protection and reducing court appearances, as well as providing enhanced services to complainants and ensuring offender accountability.
The Erie County Felony Domestic Violence Court was developed to hear all felony domestic violence cases in the county, seeking to promote justice while providing a comprehensive approach to case resolution, increasing offender accountability, ensuring complainant safety, integrating the delivery of social services and eliminating inconsistent and conflicting judicial orders.
Fourth Judicial District Family Court, Hennepin, Minnesota handles civil protection orders, marriage dissolutions, custody and parenting time cases, and paternity and child support establishment proceedings.
Kansas City, Missouri Municipal Court, Division 203, has exclusive jurisdiction over all domestic violence ordinance violations that are filed within the Kansas City limits. These cases are criminal in nature and carry a range of punishment of up to six months in jail.
Brooklyn Integrated Domestic Violence Court, New York: Hears misdemeanor criminal domestic violence cases as well as related family law and divorce cases in a high-volume urban setting. Located directly adjacent to the Brooklyn Family Justice Center, the court is able to work closely with the Kings County District Attorney’s specialized domestic violence bureau and connect victims with 25 on-site government agencies and community-based organizations.
The Miami-Dade County Domestic Violence Court consists of full time, dedicated Domestic Violence Division judges who have concurrent jurisdiction over civil injunctions/orders for protection, misdemeanors involving domestic violence, and injunction violation cases.
The Tucson City Domestic Violence Court is a high-volume criminal misdemeanor court. The Court specifically provides services and safety for Deaf victims of domestic violence through their partnership with Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse and the Community Outreach Program for the Deaf.
Winnebago County Domestic Violence Coordinated Courts, Illinois: Comprises a dedicated domestic violence criminal and civil court. The criminal court adjudicates all appearances of intimate-partner criminal cases, as well as associated orders of protection. The civil court is assigned all domestic violence-related dissolution of marriage (divorce) cases and intimate partner orders of protection. On-site victim advocacy, advanced clerical practices, open communication, and innovative practices have been key to the success of the court.
Previous Mentor Courts
County Criminal Court #10, Dallas, Texas: Handles only misdemeanor criminal cases for a diverse county of 2.4 million. The court focuses on high-risk offenders, assigning them to both pretrial and probation dockets with enhanced judicial monitoring and compliance. Strong partnerships with the District Attorney’s Office and the Probation Department have increased supervision of these high-risk offenders. The judge has also enhanced gun surrender protocols.
Stearns County Domestic Violence Court, Minnesota: Handles serious repeat offenders from the time of arrest through either commitment to prison or probation supervision. Offenders are monitored around-the-clock for compliance with conditions of release and probation. Victims receive holistic legal services from legal aid attorneys as well as community advocacy from the scene of the arrest and wrap-around services. Stearns County chose this specific group of offenders for crime reduction and increased victim safety and has a robust data-collection system to capture the savings in time, money, and lives.