Principal Investigator(s): Rempel , Michael, Center for Court Innovation; O'Sullivan, Chris, Center for Court Innovation; Weber, Julia, California Administrative Office of the Courts
The study was designed to create a portrait of domestic violence courts across America, specifically courtroom policies, procedures and goals were examined as described by court employees and prosecutors that work with the domestic violence courts. Geographic information on 338 courts was collected and organized in a national compendium of domestic violence courts. From this compendium a sample of 129 domestic violence courts was surveyed along with 74 prosecutors offices.
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Rempel , Michael, Chris O'Sullivan, and Julia Weber. National Portrait of Domestic Violence Courts. ICPSR27282-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research[distributor], 2014-04-16. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR27282.v1
Persistent URL: http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR27282.v1
This study was funded by:
- United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2006-WG-BX-0001)
Scope of Study
Smallest Geographic Unit: city
Geographic Coverage: United States
Date of Collection:
Unit of Observation: court
Universe: All 338 potential domestic violence courts listed in the national compendium of criminal domestic violence courts nationwide that handle domestic violence cases on a separate calendar or assign domestic violence cases to one or more dedicated judges or judicial officers.
Data Types: administrative records data, observational data, survey data
Data Collection Notes:
For dataset 1, 188 surveys sent to the courts were completed but only 129 records are included in the data being distributed as part of this data collection. The courts that did not meet the principal investigators criteria of a domestic violence court were removed.
For dataset 2, surveys were sent to prosecutors. Only 74 records are included in the data being distributed as part of this data collection. The courts that did not meet the principal investigators criteria of a domestic violence court were removed.
Study Purpose: The purpose of the study was to map the current landscape of criminal domestic violence courts including the state of; court efficiency, coordinated response, dedicated staff and informed decision making, victim services, offender accountability, and recidivism.
The study focused on criminal domestic violence courts, defined as courts that handle domestic violence cases on a separate calendar or assign domestic violence cases to one or more dedicated judges or judicial officers. A mixed methods design was implemented to achieve both scope and depth of understanding. The study had four steps:
Court Compendium: a comprehensive list of criminal domestic violence courts nationwide was developed. The compendium is a separate document (Center for Court Innovation 2009) that includes court names and addresses organized by state.
Site Visits: three domestic violence courts were visited in each of five states (California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Washington) to develop in-depth information on 15 courts using semi-structured interviews and structured courtroom observations. Interviews were conducted primarily with judges, court administrators, prosecutors, and victim advocates, but also defense attorneys, probation officers, batterer program administrators and law enforcement officers.
Domestic violence court judges and staff were asked questions on court background information, goals and objectives, predisposition policies, programs for offenders, defendant compliance monitoring, victim safety, stakeholders and partnerships, training, and problems and successes. Interviews with prosecutors were the same with the following additional topics; prosecutorial strategies, case assessment, victim involvement in prosecution, and disposition and sentencing.
National Surveys: a survey to all potentially qualifying courts in the national compendium was administered and a survey of prosecutors linked to each court.
Phone Interviews: phone interviews were conducted with a sub-sample of court survey respondents to explore the meaning of their responses to particular questions and to obtain additional qualitative data on court goals, operations, and challenges.
The survey was sent to 338 potential domestic violence courts, survey responses indicated that not all of these courts met the study's minimum criteria. Accordingly, the final compendium includes information on 208 confirmed domestic violence courts (dataset 3) - courts that affirmed their status in their survey responses or that were later independently determined to have a specialized domestic violence calendar or dedicated judge. Of the 208 courts sent the survey 129 responded. The majority were in New York (63) and California (34). Other states with a higher-than-average number of domestic violence courts were Florida (14), Michigan (13) and North Carolina (11). The remaining 74 courts were distributed across 27 other states and Guam. Eighteen states had no domestic violence courts.
Mode of Data Collection: record abstracts, mail questionnaire, web-based survey
Court and Prosecutor Surveys
Information regarding domestic violence courts was gathered from State Domestic Violence Coalitions.
The research of Keilitz 2001 and Shelton 2007 were used to generate lists of courts that met the researchers criteria.
Description of Variables:
Court Sample (dataset 1): Surveys distributed to courts listed in the compendium included 242 variables including: caseload characteristics; court personnel and staffing; victim services; orders of protection; use of programs and/or services for offenders; judicial and/or probation monitoring practices; and common sanctions or responses to noncompliance.
Prosecutor Sample (dataset 2): Surveys distributed to prosecutor's offices that worked with the courts listed in the compendium included 194 variables on a variety of operational and practice issues, including: domestic violence court goals and objectives; case screening processes; victim services; dispositions and sentences; use of programs and/or services for offenders; and judicial and/or probation monitoring practices.
Full Sample (dataset 3): information for all the criminal domestic violence courts across the country including 37 variables on county level data for each jurisdiction including; region, state, city, population and income variables.
Response Rates: For the court survey, 188 out of 338 responded yielding a response rate of 55.6 percent. Of the 188 completed surveys, 129 (68.6 percent) met the research team's definition of a DV court and were included in the final sample. For the prosecutor survey, 122 out of 275 responded yielding a response rate of 44.3 percent. Of the 122 completed surveys, 74 (60.6 percent) met the research team's definition of a DV court and were included in the final sample.
Presence of Common Scales: none
Extent of Processing: ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:
- Standardized missing values.
- Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.
Original ICPSR Release: 2014-04-16
Related Publications (see Notes)
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