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Specialization of Domestic Violence Case Management in the Courts: A National Survey (From Violence Against Women and Family Violence: Developments in Research, Practice, and Policy, 2004, Bonnie Fisher, ed. -- See NCJ-199701)

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2004
10 pages
This paper reports on a study by the National Center for State Courts that identified and analyzed the structure and operations of domestic-violence courts, which have been created to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system's response to domestic-violence cases, which account for a significant and increasing portion of State court caseloads.
The study's information on domestic violence courts was obtained from 3 sources: the responses of 106 of the 160 courts to a written questionnaire, follow-up telephone interviews with representatives of 82 of the 106 courts that responded to the survey, and a modified Delphi study (2 rounds of questionnaires) with a panel of 27 professionals. The 106 courts that responded to the questionnaire reported having numerous specialized processes and structural components to manage domestic-violence cases, including specialized calendars, intake units, case screening, specialized judicial assignment, and court-ordered and monitored batterer intervention programs. Few of the courts have all of these features. Although many of the responding courts have instituted some changes in the organization, procedures, or judicial assignment to manage domestic-violence cases more effectively and efficiently, relatively few courts have apparently implemented a more comprehensive system for domestic-violence caseloads. In many courts, screening and case coordination are not standard operations, and many courts do not use available information systems for case screening and tracking. Most courts do not have systematic mechanisms to monitor batterer compliance, and judicial training is lacking. Also, few courts have the full array of services needed to assist victims, including access to legal assistance for civil matters and economic support. The Delphi study findings show considerable consensus on several issues related to the court management of domestic-violence cases. Professionals experienced in the field agree that victim safety, batterer accountability, and system integrity are essential to an effective system response to domestic violence. Differences exist among professionals regarding the appropriate role of courts in providing services to domestic-violence victims, limitations imposed by court jurisdiction and organization, and the issues associated with adapting established systems to address new and different issues. The implications of these findings are drawn for researchers and for practitioners. 16 references

Date Published: January 1, 2004