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

Date: November 26, 2001

Seal of the Unified Court System
First Integrated Domestic Violence Court to
Open in New York City
BRONX, NY - The Bronx Integrated Domestic Violence Court held its opening ceremony 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 City of New York, 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, "The recidivism rate for crimes between intimates is two and a half times that of crimes between strangers - a disturbing statistic that has demanded innovation in the handling of these cases on the part of those within the justice system. We took the first step several years ago by establishing specialized domestic violence courts throughout the state and from this experience learned that victims of domestic violence often had other court cases pending involving related issues such as child custody, support or divorce. To resolve all of these matters, petitions had to be filed in multiple courts, with a family being required to appear in as many as three courts - Family, Criminal and Supreme - which needlessly further burdened these already overstressed families. The Integrated Domestic Violence Court will end this senseless overlap by dedicating one judge to resolve all court matters involving domestic violence victims and their families. It is the next step in the court system's efforts to help these individuals reclaim a life of normalcy for themselves and their children."

The Integrated Domestic Violence Court will feature a Resource Coordinator and a Children's Coordinator, who are responsible for service referrals, court monitoring and obtaining comprehensive information for the judge. The centralized operations of the new court will serve to:
* simplify the system for litigants
* increase victim safety
* eliminate multiple court appearances
* reduce unnecessary adjournments and case disposition time
* coordinate all information on compliance, social services and resources
* coordinate all agencies involved in the matters

Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman said, "The many problems that bring a family to court, such as domestic violence, child custody, divorce and support, are invariably interrelated, yet in New York one family could be required to appear in up to three different court venues to resolve all these matters: Criminal Court or Family Court for domestic violence charges, Supreme Court for divorce, and Family Court or Supreme Court for custody and support. This is not only confusing for the litigants, but it is also inefficient for the courts. The Bronx Integrated Domestic Violence Court will feature one judge to handle all aspects of a domestic violence case, including related issues that previously would have had to have been heard in other court venues. This will result in increased accountability and consistency, as well as better coordination and information sharing between the various agencies and the Court. I would like to thank Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, the local bar community and the many non-profit agencies such as Safe Horizon that have provided invaluable assistance in the establishment of this new court."

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