This week, Madison County Attorney Jennie Haymond announced the formation of a Domestic Violence Docket in cooperation with the Madison District Judges, Earl-Ray Neal, Charles W. Hardin and Cole Adams Maier.
Under the new domestic violence protocol adopted by the Madison District Court all misdemeanor cases involving issues of domestic violence will be placed on one docket for prosecution regardless of which police agency or party brings the criminal complaint.
Haymond explained this was a part of the Blueprint for Safety, which calls for county agencies including 911, local law enforcement, county prosecutors, the county jailer and probation and parole to follow certain standards in dealing with domestic violence cases.
“This lets us get everyone on board and we contacted each agency and worked through the procedure,” she said.
Haymond said, “All of the domestic violence cases to be prosecuted on one docket will ensure
that Madison County complies with the most current domestic violence protocols and will also ensure that domestic violence cases are prosecuted uniformly and consistently throughout all police agencies.”
Domestic violence cases often involve multiple agencies, courts and witnesses and allowing all of these cases to be on one docket with one prosecutor promotes a better outcome for victims.
The goal of the local court system and the Madison County Attorney’s Office is to protect victims of domestic violence in a system that recognizes the unique aspects of these types of cases.
The conclusion of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, presented an opportune time to make the changes necessary for the Domestic Violence Docket. Madison County adopted The Madison County Blueprint for Safety back in March of 2018.
“We had already talked about it previously, and we wanted to do it early on last year, but it was a matter of timing,” she said.
Haymond added that with all new things there are processes that take time and need finessed.
“This is a big step for my office and the court system to continue further with the Blueprint,” Haymond said. “It is sad and extremely unfortunate that one experiences domestic violence in their relationship, but it is something that myself and my office takes very seriously. We do everything in our power to protect our citizens from being exposed to such behavior again.”
Domestic violence continues to be one of the highest crime areas and statistically accounts for a large portion of the District Court criminal docket.
Beginning in January, 2021, the misdemeanor domestic violence docket
will be held on the second and fourth Fridays of each month. The Hon. Earl-Ray Neal will preside over this docket initially.
Jennifer Lainhart, the director of Hope’s Wings Domestic Violence Shelter said she was proud and supportive of this forward thinking, progressive idea.
“Having a dedicated domestic violence docket demonstrates an understanding on the part of the court that these cases present unique challenges that must be addressed in a new and holistic way,” Lainhart shared. “The purpose of the Madison County Blueprint for Safety is to prosecute the crime of domestic violence more efficiently and effectively while causing the victim the least amount of harm. We hope that having a dedicated domestic violence docket will allow the court to pay more attention to enhanced victim safety measures with court security, connecting victim’s with support services, enhance communication with victims regarding bond conditions, and focus on risk assessments done by the police that can assist prosecution in determining sentences. This is exciting and we applaud our County Attorney and Judges for the work they put into making this a reality.”