A stakeholders meeting began in 2016, with then Judge Jon Jensen chairing the initial meeting. The initial planning team consisted of judges, state’s attorneys, public defense attorneys, Community Violence Intervention Center (CVIC) staff, the Clerk of Court and court administration. A working group was formed and Senate Bill 2309 was introduced and passed; then signed into law during the Sixty-Fifth North Dakota Legislative Assembly. This legislation created N.D.C.C. 14-07.1-08.1 which established the construct for the creation of a domestic violence court. The overarching goals for a domestic violence court are to improve victim safety and better accountability.
The Domestic Violence Court (DVC) Mission:
Domestic Violence Court seeks to increase offender accountability with court orders, to enhance victim safety, to reduce recidivism, and to improve the administration of justice in domestic violence cases.
The concept envisioned for this court embodies these goals and follows the intent of the enabling legislation. The court will focus on misdemeanor/felony criminal offenses involving adult defendants involved in an intimate relationship. The court model will be guided by the following generally accepted core values and principles.
- Encourage informed judicial decision-making based upon comprehensive and current information.
- Ensure a consistent justice system response and judicial leadership by having a designated DVC judge.
- Improve victim safety by frontloading services and increasing communication.
- Increase offender accountability by ensuring ongoing compliance monitoring.
- Improve the community’s response to domestic violence by linking the court with criminal justice system stakeholders such as probation, the state’s attorney, the defense bar, community-based social services, and domestic violence advocacy groups.
- Focus on continued training and education for DVC team members.
DVC participants must:
- Complete orientation within 2 weeks of sentencing/release
- Meet with the project coordinator to go over the overview of DVC
- Sign all Releases of Information
- Receive Participant Handbook
- Review Criminal Judgment
To participate in the DVC you must follow all provisions of your court order which may include community service, mental health evaluation/treatment, employment, domestic violence offender treatment, chemical dependency evaluation/treatment and attending review hearings as ordered.
The advantages of this model are:
- Fewer Order to Show Cause hearings
- No significant changes to pre-trial procedure
- Increased program/treatment compliance
- Decreased incarceration
- Reduced recidivism
- $500 imposed but suspended fine
DVC is held on Wednesday’s at 1:30 pm with Judge Jason McCarthy or Judge Jay Knudson presiding over the calendar.
The first Domestic Violence Court held its first review hearing on August 15, 2016, with Judge Jason McCarthy presiding.