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Domestic violence procedures, like so many court processes around the world, were forced to go online and remote during the pandemic. The impact was dramatic—there were fewer restraining order petitions filed in the first place and an even lower amount granted. In short, domestic violence survivors, among the most vulnerable in our court system, were even more challenged in the last two years. Like many court systems, Milwaukee will never go back to being fully in-person for all procedures in conjunction with domestic violence. The evolving hybrid choices could provide additional access to justice, or these processes could create additional barriers to successful filing of restraining orders in court and accessing needed social services for survivors.

Interestingly, the shift to remote and online processes has been successful and effective in other contexts. How can we explain the difference? Using the lens of process pluralism, this Article addresses four key factors: (1) context—recognizing that domestic violence survivors are a unique set of court clients and present specific challenges; (2) process plurality—the use of different and hybrid technological options considering party access to technology and advocate support, synchronous versus asynchronous modes, efficiency, and benefits versus costs of video/face to face interactions; (3) imagination—the need to evolve and create new process options to meet the concerns of particular contexts and courts; and (4) justice—ensuring that processes are both procedurally and substantively just, providing voice, legitimacy and fair outcomes to participants. In conjunction with empirical research conducted on survivors and service providers in the Milwaukee County area during the pandemic, this Article will review each of these principles and outline crucial next steps for the court to protect the most vulnerable.

Publication Date

2022

Volume

52

Publisher

Stetson Law Review

First Page

231

Disciplines

Law

Included in

Law Commons

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