Court system develops domestic violence programs

COVID-19 has forced the court system to adjust. Yet throughout the pandemic, the 12th Circuit Court managed to hold hearing for domestic violence-related orders of protection without interruption.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and the court continues programs designed to address the issue. Earlier this year, for example, a Domestic Violence Docket program was initiated. It provides heightened supervision over defendants who plead guilty to domestic assault, harassment, stalking or violation of orders of protection. Defendants must also complete an intervention program as a condition of probation and submit to pre-trial supervision.

“The administration of justice demands the protection of both crime victims’ rights and the due process rights of defendants,” said Judge Jason Lamb. “Understanding the dynamics of domestic violence is critical for judges to make informed decisions to ensure justice in every case.”

Judge Lamb presides over the 12th Circuit Court. He also serves on the Supreme Court’s Combatting Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence Commission alongside Montgomery County Associate Circuit Judge Kelly Broniec. Audrain County Associate Circuit Judge Linda Hamlett and Judge Broniec preside over the docket. They are working with other judges and stakeholders on statewide efforts to improve responses to domestic violence within the judiciary.

Their efforts have ensured that orders of protection hearing continued, despite the pandemic. Individuals seeking orders of protection can arrange to submit petitions online and hearings can be held remotely. There is also an online notification procedure -- Track this Case -- that allows individuals to keep up to date on the status of a case.

The 12th Circuit Court covers Audrain, Montgomery and Warren counties. While COVID-19 has slowed the planned expansion of the program to Montgomery and Warren counties, the judges say they remain committed to implementing the program throughout the entire circuit in the future.

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