Bar News - May 4, 2007
New Forms for Domestic Violence Court Orders
To make it easier for law enforcement to enforce domestic violence protection orders, the state courts have adopted new forms for domestic violence temporary and final orders that follow a national format.
Attorney Betsy Paine, of the Administrative Office of the Courts, who works on domestic violence planning for the judicial branch, said the state has elected to participate in Project Passport, which seeks to enlist states in using forms characterized by a standard first page that more clearly indicates the significant conditions of the order. The goal is to improve recognition and enforcement of orders of protection and to encourage consistency in their issuance. According to the National Center for the State Courts, the new templates are in use in nearly two-thirds of the country.
Domestic violence orders are not only maintained by local law enforcement agencies, but also are entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) registry maintained by the NH State Police and are imaged by the state Administrative Office of the Courts to provide 24-hour access to copies of the orders to any court or police department. Keeping orders in such databases puts a premium on consistency in the use of forms, Paine said. While some practitioners may wish to customize forms, changing the language on the first page will not be permitted, since that information will not be captured in the NCIC process and may hamper its enforceability. (If special conditions are necessary, they may be added in the form of an addendum.)
Paine said that packets of new forms for the domestic violence protection process are available from the courts, but will not be posted on Web sites. Many of the other forms used either by plaintiffs or issued by the courts also have had minor changes to conform to statutory or case law changes. Paine urges attorneys and court personnel to only use new forms and not to “borrow” or adapt other court forms from any other court procedure.
Although New Hampshire is the first state in New England to begin using the forms, several other states in the region, including Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, are also considering using them, Paine said.
Bar members are encouraged to direct questions or comments about the new forms to ProjectPassport@courts.state.nh.us.
Attorneys interested in volunteering to represent survivors of domestic violence in a limited-scope manner at hearings on permanent restraining order hearings are encouraged to contact DOVE Coordinator Pam Dodge at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 603-224-6942.Training and mentoring in domestic violence representation is available through DOVE.