DC Court Watch Project’s mid-year data provided objective evidence that SAFE’s Court-based advocacy services have a positive impact on our client’s court outcomes. The data is released today on the DC Domestic Violence Court Watch Project’s blog and chronicles six months of court observations in DC Superior Court’s Domestic Violence Unit measuring things such as court outcomes in Civil Protection Order cases, court procedure and security, as well as the clarity of the proceedings for those representing themselves in these hearings.
The findings in the mid-year report showed that the court was providing victims and respondents the opportunity to be heard and plead their cases with or without attorneys, but that SAFE clients were more likely to obtain a civil protection order either through a contested hearing or by a default hearing than those without a SAFE advocate. The data also showed how often individuals were requesting continuances and why. While strides need to be made in terms of court security in the DV Unit, the report was positive overall with judges showing consideration and patience for both sides in the proceedings.
The DC Domestic Violence Court Watch Project was begun in January 2012 in its current form. The mission of the DC Domestic Violence Court Watch Project is to create transparency and data-driven information through court monitoring to ensure that all victims of domestic violence have equal access to a clear, fair and consistent judicial process that prioritizes victim safety and offender accountability. Court Watch is a volunteer-staffed project in which trained observers record information about Civil Protection Order hearings. The Court Watch Project provides advocates with information about how the court deals with domestic violence, and provides feedback to the Court regarding its treatment of domestic violence survivors. The goals of this project are to improve the court experience for those seeking relief, and to give survivors a larger voice in the court system.
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