U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Investigating the Impacts of Institutional and Contextual Factors on Protection Order Decision-Making

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $369,928)

Domestic violence civil protection orders (POs) are used to protect victims by prohibiting contact between a victim and abuser. Most research on POs focus on the efficacy of orders, and the research that does exist on case processing and victim access to orders has primarily examined individual-level variables (victim and judicial decision-making).

This project identifies and analyzes institutional and contextual factors that influence (1) the decision of victims to file for POs and (2) whether POs are then issued by the courts. As Arizona allows victims to file for POs at any court, this project also examines whether the waiver of residency requirements impacts patterns of PO filings. Preliminary research indicates that there are statistically significant differences between courts in the population-adjusted rates of PO filings and in the likelihood that a PO will be granted.

This mixed-methods project will be conducted in three phases. In phase I, data will be collected from PO filings in six municipal courts (n=1,200) and merged with data from Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, American Community Survey, and state administrative data. In addition, spatial data will be created to better understand the impact of geography on patterns of PO filings. In phase II, 80 interviews will be conducted with judges, court clerks, police officers, advocates, and victims in order to better understand the dynamics behind the quantitative results. Analytic techniques include logistic and multinomial logistic regression, spatial analysis, narrative analysis, and content analysis. In phase III, the findings will be integrated and court performance measures created.

This mixed-methods project is a collaborative partnership between Arizona State University (ASU), the Mesa Municipal Court (Arizona), and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). The strengths of each partner will facilitate the generation of high quality, innovative, policy-relevant research on POs. The ASU PI has extensive experience conducting research on POs, Mesa Municipal Court is a “national model” for innovative practices, and the NCSC is the premier national service provider to state courts. The project will result in the creation of interim and final reports (with executive summary, PowerPoint presentation, fact sheet, and policy recommendations), court performance measures, a judicial training module, academic presentations, and peer-reviewed journal publications. We anticipate that the development of court performance measures will lead to subsequent projects where these measures can be piloted, tested, and refined with the goal of improving access to POs, increasing procedural satisfaction, and greater victim safety.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.


Date Created: September 16, 2015