Chandler to allow video hearings for protection orders - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler to allow video hearings for protection orders

March 29th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler to allow video hearings for protection orders

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

Chandler Municipal Court will now allow victims of domestic violence to file for protection orders by video conference, allowing them to speak to a judge remotely.

The announcement drew praise from Alicia Paddock, a program manager with My Sister’s Place, a shelter program run by Catholic Charities for domestic violence victims that operates about 30 beds in the Chandler region.

“Navigating the legal system as a victim can be complicated,” Paddock said. “It can be overwhelming. This allows them to not have that traumatic experience of having to see their abuser.”

She said it also helps them overcome one of the main barriers her clients face, transportation to and from the court.

Court Administrator Ken Kung ran a similar program during his tenure in the same position at Scottsdale Municipal Court and saw a need for it in Chandler, so he began working with My Sister’s Place to make it happen.

“We are focused on ensuring the safety of all patrons in domestic violence cases by leveraging technology to extend access to the court,” Kung said.

Kung said Chandler and the state Legislature beefed up their video conferencing capabilities during the pandemic, enabling the switch.

“For the victims of domestic violence, we want to make sure they are safe,” Kung said.

Chandler Municipal Court handles about 70 protective orders each month.

Paddock said domestic violence cases continue at a high rate. She said My Sister’s Place rarely has vacancies in their shelters and when one materializes, the bed is usually filled within 24 hours.

About 70 percent of the people needing shelter have children. Paddock said the statistics show that a victim will return to their abuser seven times before leaving them for good.

“The No. 1 reason why people don’t want to leave is because of finances, and the No. 1 reason why they want to go back is because of finances. Economic abuse is a big part of domestic violence. A big part of our job is to educate on how to manage your money, how to be in control of what’s yours.”

Paddock said My Sisters Place did not see an increase in domestic violence cases during the pandemic, but said she suspects the cases were up. With many parents both working from home, it would make reporting and leaving harder to do, she said.