Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: October 24, 2001

Seal of the Unified Court System
Integrated Domestic Violence Court
Opens in Westchester
WHITE PLAINS, NY - The Westchester Integrated Domestic Violence Court opened today, making a reality the "One Family/One Judge" concept advocated by Chief Judge Judith Kaye in the court system's handling of domestic violence cases. The new court, the first of its kind to open in the state, will have one judge address the multiple legal issues - criminal, family and matrimonial - that can arise when domestic violence occurs, helping to ensure victim safety, continuity and effective case resolution.

Chief Judge Kaye said, "A family in crisis should not be further burdened with having to face a dizzying array of court venues and procedures from which to choose. Yet in New York victims of domestic violence have needed to file petitions in multiple courts in order to address all the possible issues present in such a case: Criminal Court or Family Court for domestic violence charges, Supreme Court for divorce, and Family Court or Supreme Court for child support and custody. The Westchester Integrated Domestic Violence Court will end this senseless overlap and confusion by allowing one judge, instead of several, to hear all court matters involving domestic violence victims and their families. I am so gratified that this vital court has now become a reality and can give critical assistance to persons victimized by domestic violence who are attempting to bring normalcy back to their lives."

Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman added, "The recidivism rate for domestic violence crimes is two and a half times that of crimes between strangers - a fact that was the basis several years ago for instituting specialized domestic violence courts that could handle these cases differently. And while these courts have been very effective, we learned through this experience that domestic violence cases by their very nature are often entangled with a myriad of other related issues - child custody, support and divorce, for example. The Westchester court builds on the successful model of the specialized domestic violence courts, enlarging it to encompass all possible related issues in a domestic violence case. I would like to take special note of the invaluable assistance  provided by Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, the Department of Probation, the Westchester defense bar, and many non-profit agencies such as My Sister's Place, without which the creation of this court would not have been possible."

Supreme Court Justice Daniel Angiolillo will preside over the Integrated Domestic Violence Court in Westchester. This initiative also is being implemented in locations in each of the four judicial departments of the state, including Rensselaer, Bronx, Monroe, Suffolk and Onondaga Counties.