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Brooklyn celebrates 10 years of its Integrated Domestic Violence Court

October 30, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
From left: Hon. Esther M. Morgenstern, Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Hon. Patricia E. Henry, Hon. Deborah Kaplan and Hon. Jeanette Ruiz were on hand to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Brooklyn’s Integrated Domestic Violence Court. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The Kings County Supreme Court celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Integrated Domestic Violence Court during a special ceremony in the courtroom in Downtown Brooklyn on Thursday.

The Integrated Domestic Violence Court (IDV) was one of the first of its kind to use the “one family, one judge” problem solving model where domestic violence is the underlying issue.

“October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, so how appropriate to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Integrated Domestic Violence in October,” said Hon. Esther M. Morgenstern. “The one family, one judge model has been a major success around the state. We have been recognized and are the recipient of a Mentor Court Grant from the U.S. State Department for all of the work that we do here.”

The ceremony attracted more than 100 spectators who packed ceremonial courtroom at 320 Jay St. The speakers at the event included Hon. Matthew D’Emic, Hon. John M. Levinthal, Hon. Deborah Kaplan, Hon. Jeanette Ruiz, District Attorney Ken Thompson, Hon. Jeffrey Sunshine, Jamie Burke, Dawn Ryan, Arthur Aidala and Hon. Judy Harris Kluger. All recognized the court as one of the best in the state and country, and were proud to have Brooklyn leading the way.

“Ten years ago, the IDV part opened in Kings County following a nine-month planning process,” said Henry. “Protocols were developed to identify cases involving domestic violence between intimate partners to be transferred here to our court. This reduced unnecessary court appearances for litigants, inconsistent court orders while always focusing on improving victim safety and increasing offender accountability.”

Leventhal spoke briefly about putting together the first Domestic Violence Court in 1996, a prelude to the IDV court, but would not take credit for its success.

“Little did I know that this would start out having Domestic Violence Courts in every judicial district,” Leventhal said. “It was the grandfather for IDV courts; one family, one judge has been so successful. I am very happy to be a part of this.”

While many praised the efforts, Kaplan was quick to point out that the court’s existence has not rid the community of domestic violence and cited some statistics — one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, 8.5 million children live in households that have experienced domestic violence within the past year and 202,000 orders of protection were entered into the domestic violence registry in 2014.

“What happened here needs to be duplicated throughout all aspects of our legal system. It is vision combined with common sense,” said Aidala, the Brooklyn Bar Association president. “I really hope that we can think and have this type of vision and common sense in other areas of the law in Kings County to lead the way so we stay the best of the best.”

In her keynote speech, Harris Kluger explained that while the statistics can be daunting, that society has come a long way with how it deals with domestic violence, and said that courts like Brooklyn’s IDV part are helping to lead the way.

“When I was a prosecutor in the early `80s, domestic violence was just a family matter. It was not the business of judges or police or, for that matter, your neighbors, friends and community,” Harris Kluger said. “It’s very easy to feel that we haven’t come that far, but it’s important for everyone to pause and look at this historic strides we’ve made.”


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