New Domestic Violence Treatment Court Coming to Missoula
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Missoula Justice of the Peace Alex Beal spoke to KGVO News about his recently established Domestic Violence Treatment Court that features expedited action to provide resolution to victims and perpetrators alike.
“The first goal of the court is to expedite that process expedite that resolution,” said Judge Beal. “We have been able on a kind of pilot project basis to cut the disposition time (of each case) down from about six months between the first time a person comes into court, and then the end of it, whether that's a jury trial or a plea or dismissal, from about six months to about two months.”
Judge Beal said the Domestic Violence Treatment Court method has been proving itself for the past five months with real cases and real resolutions.
“We've been doing this on a sort of pilot project basis,” he said. “All of the partner family member assault cases that have come through Missoula Justice Court in the last five months or so, have been on this expedited schedule. So far we haven't had any significant issues. We've been able to preserve the rights of the defendants to a fair trial, and we've been able to preserve the rights of the survivors of domestic violence to have their say to have some control over the process. In addition, we’ve been able to give all the attorneys enough time to prepare for trial.”
Judge Beal said streamlining the process from arrest to initial appearance to trial to resolution has made all the difference in the success of the Domestic Violence Treatment Court.
“That is absolutely the key,” he said. “I truly believe that over time, as that goes on, and as more and more people have a positive experience have duration of time with the court system that they can manage, and they tell their friends and that becomes the norm, that a lot of the impediments to reporting DV (domestic violence) go away. Now, I just can't fix all of them. There are so many financial ties between people, and I won't pretend that the length of time is the sole thing out there. But it's something within the courts control, and it's something that I think can still have a sizable impact.”
Beal said a majority of the criminal justice system has cooperated in the Domestic Violence Treatment Court.
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