Since 1999, the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence (NJIDV), has offered education programs for judges from around the country, helping them develop or enhance their skills in handling a wide range of criminal and civil cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse and stalking. The NJIDV hands-on, interactive workshops offer information on the dynamics of domestic violence, elder abuse and related issues, as well as practical advice from experienced judges and other professionals on how to handle all aspects of these complex cases fairly and effectively.
(Judges Susan Breall, Kate Lynch and Aleida Varona-Mendez)
To date, NJIDV has provided education through its continuum of programs to more than 9,000 judges. NJIDV offers its foundational domestic violence course, Enhancing Judicial Skills in Domestic Violence Cases (EJS) Workshop, several times per year in a variety of locations across the country. In addition, the Institute provides technical assistance to replicate or adapt the EJS program regionally. Through the NJIDV Continuing Judicial Skills in Domestic Violence Cases (CJS) Program, judges can attend specific court assignment and special topics courses to further develop tools to effectively manage domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking cases.
In 2005, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) identified the need to create a comprehensive education program on elder abuse for judges, law enforcement and prosecutors. The Department of Justice granted funding to NJIDV to create Enhancing Judicial Skills in Elder Abuse Cases in collaboration with a team of judges, attorneys, advocates, Adult Protective Service professionals, and others with expertise in elder abuse cases. This new course complements NJIDV's existing repertoire of judicial education and helps address the profound need for continuing education on abuse in later life.
(Judges Beryl Anderson and Paul Benshoof speak about domestic violence)
Judges return from these programs to their communities with a vastly greater understanding of domestic violence, elder abuse, sexual assault and stalking, improved tools for handling the day-to-day legal issues, and a stronger sense of their courtroom and community roles to help end and prevent violence. Judges also learn how to support victims' efforts to achieve safety, obtain support, and realize autonomy while holding batterers accountable for their conduct and offering them opportunities to change battering behavior. NJIDV staff conduct site visits and court observations for judges who have participated in NJIDV EJS, CJS and Elder Abuse workshops to enhance their ability to make changes in their courts and communities.
In 2009, pursuant to VAWA amendments, OVW created the Court Training and Improvement Program. NJIDV and OVW staff conduct site visits both before and after grants are awarded. These visits help OVW to assess the capacity of the applicants to meet the goals outlined in their applications. Once awarded, the visits help grantees meet these goals.