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EXTERNAL AFFAIRS DIVISION
231 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, Connecticut 06106
(860) 757-2270, Fax (860) 757-2215

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 16, 2006
 

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Domestic Violence Dockets to Expand to Three New Court Sites

Plans are underway to expand Connecticut’s domestic violence docket to new locations in the New Britain, New London and Stamford-Norwalk judicial districts, the result of a joint initiative supported by the state Judicial Branch, the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office, and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The domestic violence dockets will be located in courthouses in New Britain, New London and Norwalk. Domestic violence dockets already are in place in courthouses in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Waterbury.

“Domestic violence cases are among the most serious our courts handle,” Chief Court Administrator William J. Lavery said. “We know from past experience that these domestic violence dockets are a very effective tool, and we look forward to expanding the program.”

Judge Lavery also praised the collaborative nature of the project. “To achieve success, you need cooperation, and that has been the hallmark of this effort so far,” he said. “All of the agencies involved have devoted considerable time and talent to this endeavor, and the residents of the state of Connecticut will be the ultimate benefactors.”

Chief State’s Attorney Christopher L. Morano called the “aggressive investigation and prosecution of domestic violence matters one of the top priorities of the Division of Criminal Justice. The creation of these new dockets and the expansion of existing programs will greatly enhance our ability to effectively address this issue. We must do all we can to break the cycle of violence, as history tells us that the children who witness domestic violence today may be the likely perpetrators of the crime tomorrow.”

He added: “I would like to thank the Judicial Branch for expanding its role in this critical area, despite the already tremendous demands placed on its limited resources.”

“The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence Inc. is proud to partner with the Judicial Branch and the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office in the creation of three new domestic violence dockets,” Lisa Holden, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said. “These specialized courts offer enhanced victim safety while holding offenders accountable. Family violence victim advocates who are involved with these dockets will work closely with victims to relay their concerns to the court, develop safety plans and uphold the victims’ rights to obtain helpful information about the progress of the case.”

The goals of increasing victim safety and offender accountability are achieved through “vertical case management,” which seeks to enhance effectiveness through a coordination of resources and a team approach to each case. That team includes law enforcement, prosecutors, family relations counselors, probation officers and family violence victim advocates. Team members monitor a case from start to finish and hold weekly meetings to share information about the case. In addition, a judge monitors the case through court appearances and conferences in chambers.

Officials hope to have the new domestic violence dockets up and running as soon as possible, according to Joseph D. D’Alesio, executive director of the Judicial Branch’s Superior Court Operations Division.

“There is no set time line for an official launch, but we intend to move on this as quickly as we can,” D’Alesio said. “Every court location has different needs and considerations, and the logistics are substantial. The important thing is to make sure we have all of the pieces in place before the program starts.”

Bridgeport was Connecticut’s first domestic violence docket, starting in 1996 under the leadership of Superior Court Judge Lawrence Hauser, who has since been nationally recognized for his efforts to reduce domestic violence. “Judge Hauser has set the gold standard for successful domestic violence dockets,” Judge Lavery said.

Judge Lavery also praised recently retired Chief Court Administrator Joseph H. Pellegrino for setting in motion the plan to implement the newest domestic violence dockets.

Judicial officials chose the three newest sites based on recommendations from the Connecticut Domestic Violence Docket Planning Committee, which Judge Pellegrino formed to coordinate statewide efforts to address domestic violence cases. The committee based its recommendations on various factors, including staffing and facilities. Committee members include representatives from the Judicial Branch, the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office, the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the state Office of Policy and Management and the Connecticut Chiefs of Police.

Contacts for further information are as follows:

  • Judicial Branch: Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, manager of communications, at 860-757-2270
  • Office of the Chief State’s Attorney: Mark Dupuis, communications officer, at 860-258-5997
  • Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Executive Director Lisa Holden at 860-282-7899.

 

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