All Corners of U.S. Represented at Domestic Violence Familiarity Training
By Csaba Sukosd | November 14, 2018
Representatives from Guam all the way to Puerto Rico traveled to the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center to talk about the numerous elements of domestic violence that surface and how they can enhance the process in their court systems, especially for victims.
The program, hosted by the Center for Court Innovation, was a three-day seminar aimed at exposing court administrators and personnel to as much information as possible about the complexities of domestic violence and sharing their experiences. With the pilot venture, the organizers are hopeful to implement the forum as a model to be used around the country.
"We've made a lot of assumptions over the years as to why people who experience domestic violence, why they stay, why they make the decisions that we don't think are consistent with someone who needs help, and we need to do a better job of training our staff, and people we come in contact with, these nuances," said Javoyne Hicks, the clerk of court for DeKalb County, near Atlanta.
Whether a traditional lecture-style format, a group discussion, or role playing, each session revolved around an open dialogue. Given the complexities of domestic violence, both in and out of court proceedings, the goal was to get participants to maximize their problem-solving skills as a foundation to tackle a wide array of issues that could surface in the future, especially unchartered ones.
"Domestic violence is a very difficult problem, and we don't want to come and say 'Oh, we've got all the answers.' These are problems and how can we work through them together," said Rebekah Tucci, the program manager for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
Group deliberations were broken into approximately six people, typically from different parts of the country, in order to present diverse perspectives. Throughout their discussions, though, attendees quickly realized their experiences with domestic violence weren't exclusive to their courts.
"They are the same issues everywhere. It doesn't matter the difference in language, in culture, the way people are raised, color, race," said Judge Laura Lopez, who started the first domestic violence specialized docket in Puerto Rico.
Along with listening to insights from other jurisdictions, the delegates delved into a different perspective -- in particular, those seeking help.
"Understanding why the victim does what the victim does before they make the choice to seek protection from the court was an eye-opener. Once they walked through the doors of the court, it was trying to understand what happened to get them to come to the courthouse," said Danielle Rosete, the Judiciary of Guam's clerk of court.
The event was also coordinated by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Battered Women's Justice Project, the National Center for State Courts, and the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women.