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An Evaluation of Court System Best Practices for Domestic Violence Protective Orders

Award Information

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Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $491,154)

Due to the widespread use and established effectiveness of domestic violence protective orders (DVPOs) for secondary prevention of intimate partner violence (IPV), many states have established DVPO best practices, or recommended policies and procedures for court systems. However, there remains substantial heterogeneity within and among states in DVPO issuing rates, court processes, and DVPO provisions. To date, there has been no research examining implementation fidelity of these best practices, or evaluating whether fidelity to best practices results in higher DVPO granting rates or higher quality DVPOs. Our 24-month study triangulates primary and archival data in order to: 1) describe variations in DVPO hearing processes and provisions contained in the resulting orders; 2) quantify the level of adherence to DVPO best practices and the extent to which adherence varies among judicial districts; and 3) determine whether, after controlling for other factors, judicial districts that adhere more closely to DVPO best practices: a) have higher rates of granting DVPOS; and b) issue higher quality DVPOs. We will collect and analyze data from three sources: 1) structured court observations of DVPO hearings in all 40 judicial districts in North Carolina (n=500); 2) data abstraction from the DVPO case files for those observations (n=500); and 3) a survey of all 277 District Court judges using self-administered questionnaires collected via the internet. Data from sources 1-3 will be combined to create continuously-measured DVPO best practices fidelity scores for court procedures and DVPO conditions. We will analyze hierarchal linear models with DVPO cases/hearings (L1) nested within judicial district (L2), and will use a generalized estimating equation (GEE) approach to accommodate the non-independence of outcomes within judicial district, to assess whether higher fidelity scores predict higher rates of DVPO issuance and better DVPOs. In addition to manuscripts for peer reviewed journals, and written and web-based products for lay and professional audiences, this research will produce: 1) a validated court observation instrument for DVPO hearings including a quantifiable measure of fidelity to best practices; and 2) a validated index of DVPOs quality tools that are currently lacking and that could be used to monitor DVPO hearings, asses adherence to best practices, and for process and outcome evaluation of interventions that address intimate partner violence, and increase safety for survivors and their families. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 14, 2014