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New York StateUnified Court System

Integrated Domestic Violence Courts (IDV)


Key Principles

This information is aimed at guiding IDV Court planning teams as they embark on court development. The IDV Court Model is a synthesis of core principles that have emerged based upon research, experience, best practices and an analysis of the court system's current methods of addressing domestic violence. The IDV Court model provides an opportunity to address the myriad of inter-related family problems that may bring a family into the court system in a comprehensive manner while providing integrated service delivery and improving both court efficiency and informed judicial decision-making. The key components of the New York State IDV Court Model are defined below.

Jurisdiction | Planning & Technical Assistance | Case Identification | Court Calendaring | Legal Representation | Judicial Monitoring & Offender Accountability | Judicial & Non-judicial Training | Technology | Courthouse Safety | Confidentiality | Domestic Violence Services | Stakeholder & Community Resources



Jurisdiction

Each IDV Court is assigned a presiding judge with the authority to handle family, criminal and matrimonial matters. These inter-related cases constitute the crux of the IDV Courts' jurisdiction. Criminal allegations of domestic violence should form the threshold requirement for entry into the IDV Court, with related cases in at least two of the three areas of the law. Family offense cases with related matrimonial cases may also be eligible for transfer to the IDV Court.

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Planning and Technical Assistance

The planning process includes the creation of a local working group of stakeholders and culminates in the creation of a planning document that will serve as a guide to the new integrated court. IDV Courts should take advantage of ongoing technical assistance during planning and implementation to ensure consistency across the state.

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Case Identification

IDV Courts need to create an administrative process through which eligible cases will be identified. This process should include searching New York State's Domestic Violence Registry and each court's database at the earliest possible stage (i.e. pre-arraignment, intake, etc.).

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Court Calendaring

The IDV Court must develop protocols for identification of eligible cases and ensure that these cases are moved at the earliest stage from the originating part to the IDV Court. Individual cases are not consolidated but retain their distinct identities.

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Legal Representation

IDV Courts should work closely with representatives from the legal stakeholder agencies (i.e. prosecutors, defense attorneys, family court attorneys, law guardians, etc.) in order to ensure representation for all litigants. IDV Courts should be mindful of the availability of these legal resources and should work creatively to assist stakeholders in actively participating in the Court.

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Judicial Monitoring and Offender Accountability

Judicial monitoring of offenders in both criminal and family cases is a cornerstone of the IDV Court model. Offenders' compliance with court mandated programs should be immediately communicated to the judge in order to facilitate regular and intensive judicial oversight.

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Judicial and Non-judicial Training

Training and education for judges and non-judicial personnel in the IDV Courts is an integral part of the Court's ability to handle related family matters in a consistent and comprehensive manner. Intensive domestic violence training, as well as training in legal and operational issues arising in IDV Courts, is provided to the judges and court staff in order to keep all personnel abreast of the latest research and best practices in the field.

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Technology

Technology applications in an IDV Court can serve to ensure that relevant information flows continuously, quickly and reliably to and from the judge. Technology is also crucial for tracking the results of the Court. The IDV Application, developed for the IDV Courts, provides a unified and comprehensive database that captures important information regarding services and compliance and generates calendars and reports for use by the IDV Courts.

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Courthouse Safety

IDV Courts must provide a safe and secure environment in which to adjudicate families' related civil and criminal court proceedings. Planners should re-examine existing security plans and protocols to ensure that there are sufficient security personnel who can identify and respond to potentially volatile situations, safe waiting rooms for victims of domestic violence and their children with access to services and separate spaces for offenders.

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Confidentiality

IDV Courts must pay particular attention to the fact that there are different information sharing rules and policies for different types of cases. Care in ensuring appropriate levels of confidentiality of court records and proceedings must be maintained.

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Domestic Violence Services

Victim safety is one of the primary goals of the IDV Court. Each IDV Court should facilitate a victim's immediate access to victim advocates who can provide safety planning, counseling and access to a multitude of social services.

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Stakeholder and Community Resources

Each IDV Court should form relationships with a variety of stakeholder agencies, organizations, and social service providers. Interagency collaboration provides many benefits including: increased communication and coordination of services, improved levels of cooperation and opportunities for cross-training and feedback.

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