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

Date: September 20, 2006

Seal of the Unified Court System
www.nycourts.gov

Ten-Year Anniversary of New York’s Domestic Violence Courts
Commemoration Kicks Off October Domestic Violence Month

NEW YORK - Ten years of achievement by New York’s domestic violence courts was commemorated today by Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, along with state and local officials to kick off Domestic Violence Month in October. Approximately 60 New York judges from around the state who preside over these specialized courts joined in the anniversary observance held at the Brooklyn Supreme Court.

In addition to Chief Judge Kaye, speakers at today’s press conference included Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman; Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Court Operations and Planning Judy Harris Kluger; Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson; New York City Commissioner Yolanda Jimenez, from the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence; and Barry Kamins, President of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

“From New York’s very first domestic violence court established in Brooklyn 10 years ago to today having over 60 courts operating across the state, we can feel proud of the tremendous strides we have made in this area,” said Chief Judge Kaye. “However, we will not rest on our laurels. Eleven new courts are scheduled to open this year, and we will continue to expand this program statewide until every New Yorker in need of these services will have access to them. This 10-year anniversary is a time to reflect upon the progress we have achieved and our work ahead in the fight against domestic violence.”

In New York State, there are currently combined over 60 Integrated Domestic Violence Courts and Domestic Violence Courts. The Integrated Domestic Violence Court (IDV) is a “one family/one judge” model, which makes it possible for a family to resolve in one court all matters related to the domestic violence charges—including criminal, custody, visitation and divorce. Thus far, the IDV courts have served over 7,500 families and heard over 35,000 distinct cases. The Domestic Violence Court model is characterized by a single presiding judge, a fixed prosecutorial team, enhanced court staffing and coordination with local stakeholders.

Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman said, “New York is a leader in the country in responding to the scourge of domestic violence. Our Integrated Domestic Violence Courts are unique in hearing all matters concerning a family involved in a domestic violence case—criminal, family, matrimonial—and has been studied for replication by other jurisdictions. All our specialized courts—whether the Integrated or Domestic Violence model—operate with the informed sensitivity needed in these potentially volatile cases, and our experience with them is one of which we are very proud.”

The first domestic violence court established in New York was the Brooklyn Felony Domestic Violence Court, which began operating in 1996. An evaluation of this court conducted by the Urban Institute found that victim advocates were assigned in 100% of cases, case dismissals significantly decreased, and the probation violation rate was cut in half due to interagency collaboration and intensive monitoring of defendants.

In this regard, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes stated, “Over the past decade, thousands of Brooklyn’s domestic violence victims have had their cases prosecuted in these ground-breaking court parts. Their unique resources enable my office’s counselors and prosecutors to provide support for domestic violence victims, while also strengthening our ability to successfully prosecute these cases.”

The New York State court system has created a public service announcement to highlight October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and commemorate ten years of dedicated service to families in crisis. The announcement will air on radio stations throughout the state and on the court system’s website at www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew.

Web page updated: October 26, 2006