In February 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court formed a committee to examine domestic violence laws, policies and procedures. The following summer, the Supreme Court Ad-Hoc Committee on Domestic Violence released its report with 30 recommendations to strengthen New Jersey’s response to domestic violence.
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Bar Associations should develop referral procedures to provide low or no cost legal assistance to parties litigating civil domestic violence cases.
Law schools should explore the use of law students to provide legal assistance to self or unrepresented parties litigating civil domestic violence cases.
The Judiciary should explore the development of court rules and procedures to allow domestic violence victims, in exceptional cases, to testify without being physically present in the courtroom for Final Restraining Order Hearings.
The Judiciary should expand the Hospital to Court Safety Assistance Project and the Safe House to Court Safety Assistance Project statewide to facilitate victims obtaining restraining orders.
The Judiciary should ensure that interpreting and translation services are provided to domestic violence litigants in both the municipal and Superior Courts.
The Judiciary should update the current Risk Assessment form and develop training for Judiciary staff on the utilization of the form.
The Judiciary should review and support the expansion of the current existing court ordered supervised visitation and safe exchange programs with a view toward standardized statewide availability and protocols.
Statewide expansion of therapeutic programs for children exposed to domestic violence.
The Office of Attorney General and the County Prosecutors should review policies for Domestic Violence Response Teams (DVRT) pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-20(b)(3)(1) and consider the following: 1)mandate automatic call out policies for accessing DVRT advocates; 2) provide more oversight to police departments with respect to their utilization of DVRTs.
County Domestic Violence Working Groups should be required to maintain up-to-date information regarding available domestic violence programs and services. Additionally, County Domestic Violence Working Groups should revisit their initial charge and compositions.
Create a Technology Task Force through the Supreme Court State Domestic Violence Working Group to explore all issues of technology related to domestic violence. This task force or Committee should include all stakeholders including law enforcement.
Municipal and applicable Superior Court judges and staff are required by statute N.J.S.A. 2C:25-20(b)(2) to attend annual domestic violence training. The Judiciary should broaden the content of training provided to judges and staff.
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-20(a)(2) law enforcement officers are required to attend four hours of domestic violence training annually. It is recommended that at least once every three years this training requirement be satisfied through in-person training, as opposed to on-line training. Furthermore, Domestic Violence Liaison Officers (DVLO), a sworn member of the department assigned by the municipal chief/public safety director, shall be required to attend additional annual domestic violence training and be a member of their County Domestic Violence Working Group.
All Assistant Prosecutors shall receive domestic violence training upon hiring as part of new employee training with refresher training as directed by the County Prosecutor.
Consideration be given by the Board on Continuing Legal Education (CLE) to adjustmandatory CLE requirements to provide incentive to private attorneys to obtain domestic violence training.
Certified matrimonial attorneys should be required to complete a minimum of three hours of domestic violence training as part of their periodic CLE requirement for recertification.
N.J.S.A. 2B:25-10 should be modified to allow the Attorney General and respective County Prosecutor to require that municipal prosecutors attend needed training. This training should include, but not be limited to, domestic violence.
New Jersey should adopt formal standards to govern the operations of Batterers Intervention Programs (BIP).
Once BIP standards are established, the New Jersey Judiciary should only make court referrals to BIPs that are in compliance with State standards.
New Jersey should develop a system wide, coordinated process for assessing risk and danger in domestic violence cases.
The Judiciary should consider the development of a “Bench Guide of Risk in Domestic Violence Cases” that can aid judges in their decisions impacting alleged batterers and victims of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence cases should be scheduled separately (staggered scheduling), when appropriate, from other municipal offenses.
Municipal Courts should expand the use of domestic violence advocates in court proceedings.
Police should acquire additional and complete contact information on the confidential Victim Notification Form, such as cell phone numbers, for victims, since nonappearance by a victim in Municipal Court is often due to communication difficulties, especially where the victim has relocated to avoid further acts of domestic violence.
Municipal Court administrators should be given access to the Domestic Violence Central Registry (DVCR).
Consideration should be given to including the acts of cyberharassment and invasion of privacy as predicate acts under N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19.
Consideration should be given by the court to allow the filing of a Non-Dissolution (FD) complaint for child support, custody, paternity or parenting time (Part II relief section of FRO) when there is an active restraining order. This issue should be referred to the Conference of Family Presiding Judges.
The Court should be encouraged, in appropriate cases as permitted by law, to enter an order for ongoing child support in a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) or Amended Temporary Restraining Order. The filing date of the TRO should be preserved for purposes of establishing child support.
New Jersey Court Rule 1:38-3(d)(9) should be modified to enable attorneys representing a defendant in a related criminal matter to obtain a copy of the recording or the transcript of the related FRO hearing.
Quasi-criminal matters within the jurisdiction of the Municipal Court, arising out of the same incident, should not be joined with the domestic violence civil restraining order for adjudication in Superior Court. Each court should maintain its current jurisdictional authority over domestic violence matters.