Module XIII: Recommendations for Improving Court Response to Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse
Key Points: Recommendations for Improving Court Repsonse to Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse
Creating a Responsive Courtroom
- Utilize a variety of approaches to create a courtroom environment where victims feel safe disclosing intimate partner sexual abuse in domestic violence cases, given its prevalence, victims' reluctance to disclose and the importance to judges of knowing about it.
- Work with your court administrator to develop an intake form that asks behaviorally-based questions about possible intimate partner sexual abuse and ask those questions directly but with sensitivity during protection order hearings.
- In jury trials where intimate partner sexual abuse is a factor, be sure juror attitudes toward this crime are fully investigated during voir dire.
- Recognize that evidentiary rules such as rape shield law apply to intimate partner sexual abuse cases, and that expert witness testimony about the nature and harm of this type of abuse may be essential to a fair trial.
- Require the batterer intervention and sex offender treatment programs to which you sentence intimate partner sexual abuse offenders to address this issue comprehensively.
Creating a Responsive Court System
- Establish a “one judge-one family” system, which assigns a single judge to handle all a family’s matters before the court – civil, criminal, family, juvenile or probate.
- Consider establishing an integrated domestic violence court to accomplish the “one judge-one family” ideal.
- Revise intake forms to ask behaviorally-based questions about intimate partner sexual abuse and create an informational pamphlet to distribute with the form and elsewhere explaining that such conduct may be grounds for receiving a protective order.
- Develop an incident-based system for collecting court data on intimate partner sexual abuse in the context of domestic violence cases.
- Inside the courthouse, create secure waiting rooms for victims and a supervised waiting area for children.
- Outside the courthouse, support expansion of supervised visitation facilities to promote safety for victims and children.
- Present education for judicial and non-judicial court personnel about intimate partner sexual abuse.
Creating a Responsive Community
- As permitted in many codes of judicial conduct, judges can take a leadership role in the community, with the legislature and in the courts to improve the justice system and community response to intimate partner sexual abuse.
- Judges in integrated domestic violence courts or on domestic violence coalitions are in a unique position to bring together all the stakeholders to create a coordinated community response to intimate partner sexual abuse.
- Judges can encourage and participate in education about intimate partner sexual abuse for law enforcement, the civil and criminal bar, victim services, probation/parole and offender intervention/treatment providers as well as the community at large.
|Module XIII → Key Points: Recommendations for Improving Court Repsonse to Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse