N E W S
Release: Immediate, June 25, 1998
BRONX, NYWith $1 million in federal and state grants, the Unified Court System has begun an ambitious plan to create specialized domestic violence courts in every borough within the New York City Criminal Court. At a ribbon-cutting held today for the Bronx Domestic Violence Court, Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman announced that the new court would be the first to adapt the successful strategies of the Brooklyn Supreme Court Domestic Violence Part to the higher caseloads of the Criminal Court. The Brooklyn Domestic Violence Court, which opened in June 1996, introduced a new model for handling domestic violence cases in New York State, emphasizing continuity of court and agency personnel, intensive case monitoring, defendant accountability and supportive services for victims.
Serving as the prototype for future expansion into all five boroughs of New York City, the Bronx court will handle all domestic violence cases pending in the Criminal Court and will be composed of three divisions: an all-purpose part (which handles all post-arraignment appearances up to hearings and trials), a trial part and a compliance part. One judge will be permanently assigned to each of the parts and will be assisted by a team of on-site resources, including victim advocates, a defendant monitor and a special resource coordinator, who will serve as an institutional link between the court and partner agencies and ensure that the judge has adequate information to make informed bail and sentencing decisions.
Central to the functioning of the new court will be the use of advanced technology to monitor case activity, track compliance, facilitate interagency data sharing and ensure that the latest and most complete case information is available to the judge. Funds to develop and implement the new technology, as well as other start-up costs, have been provided through federal grants obtained under the Violence Against Women Act. New York State received approximately $1 million dollars to create the Bronx Domestic Violence Court and to replicate the program in Queens.
Chief Judge Kaye said, "Two years ago, we stood in front of an audience like this one in the Brooklyn Supreme Court and announced the opening of its new Domestic Violence Part. This court introduced a new approach in handling domestic violence casesone that stressed victim safety, intensive defendant monitoring and improved information sharing between the court system and law enforcement agencies. The phenomenal success of the program has inspired us to take on a new challengeincorporating this innovative model into the New York City Criminal Court, which handles the highest volume of cases in the state. With the support of federal and state monies and the cooperation of the legal community, we have now begun the next phase of our domestic violence intervention plancreating these specialized courts within the Criminal Court throughout New York City. I have every confidence that this latest effort will prove every bit as successful as the last."
The success of the court system's new domestic violence strategy can be seen in statistics obtained two years after the opening of the Brooklyn Supreme Court Domestic Violence Part. In 1997, the court had:
Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman said, "On the average, one out of five cases handled by the New York City Criminal Court involves domestic violence. The large percentage of these cases on the court's docket necessitates a more focused strategy to be taken to resolve these potentially volatile cases in a sensitive and just manner. Under the leadership of Judge Judy Kluger, the New York City Criminal Court has begun a citywide initiative to create domestic violence courts in each borough. I am delighted to be here in the Bronx today to inaugurate the first of these specialized courts."
Speakers at the press conference today included: