ALBANY (USA TODAY) -- Domestic-violence victims will be able to soon obtain a temporary order of protection electronically in some counties, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced on Friday.
This initiative will allow victims to obtain the orders via video conference when traveling to or appearing in court may pose a risk to them.
The pilot program is being introduced in seven New York counties, including Broome and Monroe, as well as in White Plains and Yonkers in Westchester County.
It is expected to start next month.
“Individuals who suffer domestic abuse often lack transportation or child care, or face other challenges that make it extremely difficult − or dangerous – to travel to the courthouse in order to obtain an emergency order of protection,”
DiFiore, the former Westchester County district attorney, said in a statement.
The Remote Access Temporary Order of Protection Project was authorized through a recent amendment to the
New York’s Judiciary Law and Family Court Act.
The program will allow eligible applicants to e-file their orders of protection with the assistance of a trained advocate.
During the video conference, the applicant will appear before a judge from a secure and remote site, such as their local family justice center, senior center, shelter, hospital or domestic violence advocacy agency.
In Monroe County, the county's family court will work the University of Rochester's Strong Medical Center, where a qualified individual will screen patients for domestic violence before referring them to in-house clinic to seek an order of protection, the state Office of Court Adminstration said.
With the new program, orders of protection petitions are electronically transferred to the courts online.
Then a hearing would be held via Skype, allowing the hearing to take place either on the same day the petition was filed or soon after.
Domestic-violence-prevention groups praised the initiative.
“Anything that makes it easier or safer for victims of domestic violence to get the help they need is a step in the right direction,” Gwen Wright, executive director of the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, said in a statement.