Based on interviews with 50 victims and 50 defendants who participated in a specialized criminal domestic violence court in Lexington County, SC, this study assessed the court's performance.
Both victims and defendants expressed satisfaction with their court experiences, indicated that the process allowed them to express their views, felt they were treated with respect, and were generally satisfied with the outcomes of their cases. Researcher observations of court procedures and interviews with court personnel confirmed that the court has incorporated victims and defendants into the decisionmaking process while providing a fair procedure for addressing male partner violence against women. The Lexington County Criminal Domestic Violence Court (CDVC) was established within South Carolina's magistrate court system in 1999. All magistrate-level nonfelony cases of domestic violence that have occurred in the county have been processed by the CDVC. The overall goal of the CDVC is to improve the criminal justice system's response to domestic violence. This is being done by using a multiagency collaborative approach in processing domestic violence cases. Two full-time investigators and a full-time prosecutor work as a team on domestic violence cases. A full-time victim advocate assists domestic violence victims, and a court administrator manages the administrative tasks of a separate court docket for domestic violence cases. Two magistrate-level judges are assigned to the CDVC. A mental health counselor diagnoses and assigns proper treatment plans for offenders. A legal advocate from a local domestic violence shelter is assigned to the court to contact victims and be a supportive presence in court. 11 notes and 32 references