For Immediate Release
Contact: Darby Mangen (626) 918-0492, cell (626) 893-1275
San Gabriel Valley NOW and the East Los Angeles College Feminist Club will protest Friday against the arbitrary closing down of the Domestic Violence Court in West Covina.
The protest will be at 12:45 p.m. at the Citrus Courthouse, 1427 West Covina Pkwy, West Covina, 91790 along with a Punch and Judy show at 1:15, demonstrating what the decision will do to families.
The Domestic Violence Court, which was housed in both the West Covina and Rio Hondo courthouses, was a one-room courthouse providing all services to families in crisis from one judge, one prosecutor and one public defender. Its function was similar to the more recent drug courts, but for domestic violence offenders.
The court was a model for handling domestic violence and had won awards and much praise from community groups and office-holders because it insured that all court officers involved were highly experienced.
In dismantling the court, Judge Scott Gordon gave “judicial burn-out” as the reason.
Michelle Geil, President of the SGV chapter of NOW, said “Rotating the judges for a period of time, perhaps two years or two months, would keep the Model Court running. This change seems to be throwing the baby out with the bath water.”
The court will now disperse domestic violence cases throughout the court load, like any other crime.
The last time the court was threatened, in 1999, Supervisor Michael Antonovich wrote in a resolution, “Domestic violence is a complex social problem that affects each individual in society, either directly or indirectly. These costs are eventually passed on to the taxpayer…”
After the previous closing, the Model DV Court was re-opened in 2000.
For the last 15 years the Model DV Court has ensured experienced judges and attorneys, protection for victims and their children, treatment for abusers, reduction of recidivism and a saving for the state of millions of dollars.
“The lives of the victims are more important than the comfort of the judges,” said Darby Mangen, chapter president emeritus, who has been involved with the Model Court since its inception.