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For immediate release: July 23, 2007
For further information contact: Winnie Comfort or Tammy Kendig

Judiciary Expands Pilot Program to Protect Domestic Violence Victims

The New Jersey Supreme Court has approved for statewide expansion a pilot program in which domestic violence complaints and temporary restraining orders can be filed electronically. The electronic temporary restraining order (E-TRO) program uses electronic transmission and filing of domestic violence complaints with the Family Division of Superior Court to help victims of domestic violence obtain needed protections outside of normal court hours.

"Through the E-TRO program, law enforcement officers around the state are in a better position to protect the victims of domestic violence," said Judge Philip S. Carchman, acting administrative director of the courts. "In addition, the program improves efficiency and eliminates redundant data entry points, thereby avoiding unnecessary delay and data entry errors. The program is yet another example of how we are using technology to serve the public better."

First introduced in December 2002, in Burlington County, the expanded program improves the efficiency with which law enforcement agencies are able to protect the victims of domestic violence. Police officers can interview victims and immediately enter the information on a computer that is linked to the Judiciary's mainframe computer. As is the current practice, the judge takes sworn testimony by telephone and, if a TRO is approved, the information is added immediately to the statewide Domestic Violence Central Registry and is accessible to all state law enforcement personnel within moments. The information also is transmitted to the Family Automated Case Tracking System, which is used by court personnel to track all Family Division cases.

As a critical part of the program, the Supreme Court relaxed certain rules of court that make it possible for police officers to enter needed signatures electronically on domestic violence complaints and temporary restraining orders. The police retain hard copies of the documents.

Funded by a grant from the federal STOP Violence Against Women Act, the pilot program began in Delran and Pemberton Townships. It was expanded in 2003 to towns in Camden, Cape May, Essex and Somerset Counties; and in 2005 to towns in Passaic County.

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