NEW YORK STATE UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM

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1 NEW YORK STATE UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM INTEGRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURTS Office of Court Administration Hon. Judy Harris Kluger 25 Beaver Street, Suite 1128 Chief of Policy and Planning New York, New York New York State Unified Court System

2 Mission Statement New York State s Integrated Domestic Violence Courts coordinate court action for families affected by domestic violence by bringing related criminal, family and matrimonial cases involving the same family before a single judge. Utilizing this one family - one judge model, these courts seek to promote the administration of justice and the protection of the rights of all litigants, while enhancing safety and increasing offender accountability by facilitating access to needed services and providing judicial monitoring and informed judicial decisionmaking. 1

3 NEW YORK STATE UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM INTEGRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURT MODEL I. INTRODUCTION By creating a forum for a single judge to hear all related criminal, family and matrimonial matters, Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Courts provide more informed judicial decision-making, greater consistency in court orders, and fewer court appearances for individuals affected by domestic violence. New York s first IDV Courts dedicated to the one family - one judge model were established in Building on the model established from the pilot courts, IDV Courts now exist in superior courts throughout the state. II. GOALS AND KEY PRINCIPLES A. Goals It is the goal of each IDV Court to promote:? informed judicial decision-making based upon comprehensive and current information on all issues involving the family;? the protection of the rights of all litigants;? safety of affected individuals through the elimination of conflicting orders and careful monitoring of compliance;? consistent handling of all matters relating to the same family by a single presiding judge;? efficient use of court resources, with reduced numbers of appearances and speedier dispositions through consolidation of court operations into one courtroom;? linkage to services and other resources to comprehensively address the needs of the family;? a coordinated response and collaboration among criminal justice and child welfare agencies and community-based groups offering services and assistance to affected individuals; and increased confidence in the court system. 2

4 B. Key Principles The IDV Court model provides an opportunity to address the myriad of interrelated problems that may bring a family into the court system in a comprehensive manner while facilitating access to needed services and improving both court efficiency and informed judicial decision-making. This model represents a synthesis of core principles that have emerged based upon research, experience, preferred practices and an analysis of the court system s methods of handling domestic violence cases. The key components of the statewide model are discussed below. 1. Jurisdiction The jurisdiction of the IDV Courts is defined in Part 41 of the Rules of the Chief Judge and Part 141 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator. Generally speaking, IDV Courts handle criminal domestic violence cases with overlapping family court cases and/or supreme court matrimonial cases. The specific case types typically transferred to the IDV Court are as follows: a. Criminal Domestic Violence Cases whether violation, misdemeanor, and/or felony that involve persons: currently or formerly involved in an intimate relationship, including same-gender couples, legally married to one another, formerly married to one another, with child in common regardless of whether such persons have been married or have lived together at any time, or related by consanguinity or affinity. b. Family Court Cases include, at a minimum: family offenses, and/or custody and visitation petitions. c. Supreme Court Matrimonial Cases: contested divorce proceedings only. Other categories of cases may be included after consideration of the needs of the locality and to promote the administration of justice. 3

5 2. Planning and Technical Assistance New IDV Courts, with the aid of technical assistance teams, engage in a structured planning and implementation process to ensure that each IDV Court maintains a level of uniformity and operational consistency and promotes public confidence in the court system. Based upon past experiences, it is suggested that a minimum six-month planning period be set aside for this purpose, followed by at least a six-month period that is designated for pilot implementation to test protocols and practices before expanding to full capacity. Technical assistance teams, usually comprised of a member from the Office of the Chief of Policy and Planning and a member from the Center for Court Innovation, furnish ongoing assistance and guidance to court planning teams in order to address comprehensively the legal, operational and technological needs of the courts. The creation of the internal court planning team is the first step in the local process. This team should be composed of the IDV Court judge, court personnel from each of the courts of origin, a representative from the local administrative judge s office and other members as appropriate. The planning process also includes regular meetings of a larger group composed of the internal court team and representatives from the local district attorney s office, the defense bar, the probation department and other stakeholders as appropriate. The planning process should result in the creation of a document that outlines how the court will operate. This planning document should include sections that address case eligibility, identification, screening and routing, calendaring, staff responsibilities and duties, training, technology and maintenance of statistical information, facilities, case integrity, confidentiality and record-keeping, judicial monitoring, offender accountability and the identity, role and responsibilities of the various stakeholders. Each of the courts that will send cases to the IDV Court should separately outline its court s case identification, screening and routing procedures in the planning document. 3. Case Identification, Screening and Court Calendaring IDV Courts work collaboratively with the courts of origin and local stakeholders to create protocols and procedures for identification and screening of eligible cases and ensures that these cases are moved at the earliest stage from the originating parts to the IDV Court. The Automated Case Information System (ACIS) and the Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Application are tools available to the IDV Courts that aid court staff in case identification and screening. (See Technology below). Ideally IDV Courts should calendar all related family, criminal and matrimonial matters on the same day, while preserving the individual integrity of each case. Where practical, the court should reserve specific time periods for conducting hearings and trials and monitoring compliance. 4

6 4. Legal Representation IDV Courts work collaboratively with public defender organizations, assigned counsel panels, legal services groups, non-profit organizations, attorney for the child panels and the private bar to ensure quality legal representation for all parties appearing before the court. 5. Judicial Monitoring and Offender Accountability To promote accountability with court orders on all case types, IDV Courts develop protocols for monitoring and judicial supervision of offenders, such as the regular use of compliance calendars. Court planning teams work collaboratively with the local department of probation, as well as the various service providers and programs to ensure ongoing communication and the timely submission of compliance reporting. Judges should use plain language when explaining court mandates and the consequences for compliance and non-compliance with court orders. Their responses to offender non-compliance should be both clear and consistent. 6. Judicial and Non-judicial Training Judges and non-judicial staff participate in statewide training and education programs delivered in four ways: (1) centralized IDV orientation and follow-up training, (2) local site training, (3) training organized through judicial educational seminars and (4) training in the use of specialized computer applications. These avenues ensure that the courts receive continuing education in legal issues and procedures, social dynamics and available services across case types. For example, IDV Court planning teams attend comprehensive training programs provided by the Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Court Operations and Planning. These programs address the dynamics of domestic violence, staff roles and responsibilities, coordination with court agencies and outside organizations and the use of specialized computer applications. IDV Courts should collaborate with community-based organizations to facilitate continuing education and crosstraining for all stakeholders. 7. Technology A variety of technology tools exist to assist the courts in the collection of relevant information. IDV Courts utilize existing technology for case identification and screening, record keeping and statistical purposes. The ACIS application is a tool available to the courts that will assist in the identification of eligible cases. The IDV Application is a database that the IDV Courts must use to enter relevant and consistent case information. The IDV Application must be kept current to aid the court in the preparation of necessary statistical reporting. 5

7 8. Courthouse Safety IDV Courts must provide a safe and secure environment in which to adjudicate family related civil and criminal court proceedings. Some of these issues may already be addressed by the localities compliance with the Fair Treatment Standards for Crime Victims Act (Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts, Part 129). Planners should re-examine existing security plans and protocols to ensure that, where practical, (1) there are sufficient security personnel who are well trained in the area of domestic violence and who can identify and respond to potentially volatile situations; (2) there are clear and visible signs posted to aid IDV Court users; and (3) there is a safe waiting area. Additionally, planners should evaluate the quality of any security services that are provided on a contractual basis to ensure that they meet the above requirements. 9. Domestic Violence Services IDV Courts work with victim advocates to facilitate the delivery of needed services, including safety planning, counseling and other related services, such as supervised visitation. Additionally, IDV Courts, where practical, should attempt to find a safe, secure and confidential location for affected individuals to meet with on-site advocates. 10. Stakeholders The IDV Court judge and staff hold regular meetings with representatives from the local district attorney s office, members of the bar specified above (See Legal Representation), agents from the specialized programs and other appropriate agencies that appear in the court to coordinate policies and procedures and discuss ongoing strategies and approaches. 11. Community Resources IDV Courts collaborate with a variety of service providers to ensure a coordinated community response and the identification of comprehensive services for all parties. 12. Confidentiality, Case Integrity and Record Keeping Confidentiality is of paramount concern in the IDV Court. Judges and support staff must take particular care to be aware of and keep confidential any sensitive information. Rules concerning record-sharing are strictly adhered to. Additionally, IDV Courts take the utmost care to preserve the integrity and distinct characteristics of each type of proceeding. Particular attention should be paid to the fact that there are different information sharing rules and policies as well as burdens of proof for the different types of cases. 13. Assessment IDV courts cooperate in statewide data collection so that court managers and policy makers can assess the achievement of designated benchmarks. 6

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