Orders of Protection in Domestic Violence Cases: An Empirical Assessment of the Impact of the Reform Statutes

01 Jan 1993

The authors' concern that domestic violence reform statutes might not be having their intended effect sparked their decision to evaluate the protective order statutes empirically. The authors therefore distributed a lengthy survey to 843 domestic violence organizations nationwide that helped battered women obtain protective orders. The survey focused on three issues. The first issue was access to the courts: Is the protective order remedy accessible to battered women? The second issue related to the procedures for obtaining orders of protection: Are judges granting orders in appropriate cases, and are they awarding the full range of remedies contemplated by the reform statutes? The third issue involved the procedures for serving and enforcing protective orders: Are emergency orders being served promptly, and are the police, the prosecutors, and the courts responding adequately to violations? The authors were interested in discovering what types of problems exist in these three areas, and whether they are attributable to inadequacies in the domestic violence reform statutes themselves or simply to the way the statutes have been implemented by executive and judicial officials.

Part I of this article explores the access question, Part II examines the issuance and scope of protective orders, and Part III discusses service and enforcement issues. Each part first analyzes the survey responses and identifies problem areas and then suggests steps to rectify those problems.