Domestic violence cases to be heard in one court - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Domestic violence cases to be heard in one court

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Domestic violence is one of the most commonly reported crimes in the area. And starting Sept. 2 in Davidson County all domestic violence cases will be funneled through one court.

General Sessions Judges Gale Robinson, Angelita Blackstone Dalton and Allegra Walker will hear domestic violence cases in Courtroom 4B.

"We're not experts, but we're handling the cases I think long enough. So our experience will help making sure that we're doing what we think is the appropriate thing," Dalton said.

Timeliness plays an important role in domestic violence cases. Under the current system, it would take judges nearly a month to schedule continued cases. The new setup could cut that time to a week, maybe even a day.

"I think the longer you have a case pending, it creates a problem in a number of ways," Dalton said. "You have that lack of accountability."

The changes come after the mayor's office released an assessment on domestic violence safety last September.

Other recommendations will manifest too. For instance, the parties will stand at opposing sides of the courtroom and never leave at the same time.

Robinson said the more safeguards in place, the better.

"Because the system is being responsive, I think more and more people are coming forward," Robinson said.

Earlier this year, a controversial case raised eyebrows when Judge Casey Moreland waived a 12-hour cooling off period for Nashville contractor David Chase, the client of a close friend. Chase left jail and allegedly beat his ex-girlfriend again.

Chase filed an order of protection against his ex-girlfriend last week. He will appear in court Wednesday.

The judges say a "streamlined" docket leaves cases in specific hands: Ones with the most experience handling domestic violence.

"I don't think anyone should ever feel intimidated, nervous or scared coming to court," Robinson said.

The mayor's assessment resulted in other changes, including 14 new hires who will work as probation officers, advocates and part-time Metro police officers. Starting in September, victims can visit a new advocacy center in the Ben West Building.

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