New process at Family Court expedites access to temporary protections orders

Local News

Family Court has made some changes to improve the safety of domestic violence victims.  Now, judges are expediting the process of reviewing applications for Temporary Protection Orders.

By state law, a judge has to make a decision on an application within a day of receiving it.  The changes are cutting wait times, allowing temporary protection orders to be granted or denied within hours.

TC is in charge of court advocacy services at Safe Nest. The organization works directly with domestic violence victims to provide them support and safety planning.

“This is just another step to enhance victim’s safety and make things easier for victims,” TC said.

TC’s talking about a new process at family court for temporary protection orders or TPO’s.  It allows victims to walk in, fill out an application, and have a hearing before a judge the same day.

“That’s something that is very necessary because the incidents of domestic violence have tended to increase, unfortunately, in our communities,” said Presiding Judge Bryce Duckworth, Family Division, District Court.

Judge Duckworth is one of three hearing masters moving along applications.  If granted, TPO’s are good for up to 45 days and are immediately entered into a national law enforcement database.

“So it’s a more expedited process that’s a lot more efficient process that allows victims of domestic violence to obtain that access to justice that much quicker,” Judge Duckworth said. 

“There’s a need to immediately issue a temporary order of protection,” said Judge Amy Mastin, Family Division, District Court.

In the last two days, Judge Amy Mastin has reviewed 55 applications. Since the program started on Jan. 28, a total of 118 TPO cases have been decided.

“The request is denied,” Judge Mastin said.

The TPO application process doesn’t require the second party to be present when the case initially goes before a judge.  The applicant also doesn’t have to be there.

However, both parties have the right to appeal a judge’s ruling.

“We’re very excited about this new process for the TPO’s and believe it will benefit victims greatly,” TC said.

Family court judges are hearing TPO cases Monday through Friday.  But applications have to be submitted before 3 p.m. to guarantee a hearing the same day.

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