In her most recent post for the Huffington Post, WLG’s Bari Weinberger analyzed the outcome of the Ray Rice domestic violence case, calling for improvements to New Jersey domestic violence law.
Members of the New Jersey Legislature are now following suit by introducing three new domestic violence bills in direct response to Rice’s placement in a pre-trial intervention program, which if successfully completed, will wipe from his record any mention of charges stemming from Rice’s assault on his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City casino.
Introduced by State Assemblywomen Carolina Casagrande (R-Monmouth) and Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden), the first bill (A3801) would establish a three-year Domestic Violence Court pilot program in Monmouth and Camden counties.
According to the bill, domestic violence courts would be part of the state’s Superior Court system. Cases involving alleged domestic violence could be referred to the new courts, and the judges assigned to them would have expertise on the topic.
Casagrande explained to NJ.com that right now, many cases of domestic violence are handled in municipal courts.
“As it stands, we have these victims going into a courtroom where the people have minimal training. Also, they’re sitting next to people who have minor traffic violations or may have a summons for not mowing their lawns. It’s really not an appropriate environment.”
In addition to the legislation to create domestic violence courts, Casagrande also introduced A3802, a bill to upgrade domestic violence crimes and include a mandatory three years of imprisonment for offenders who injure their victims.
The last of the three new bills, A3803, will require that all judges receive at least three hours of domestic violence training.
These new bills join legislation already before both houses that would provide domestic violence victims with the ability to testify via closed-circuit monitor and establish a panel to review and make further recommendations for strengthened domestic violence laws.
We will keep you posted on updates to the bills as they make their way through the Assembly and Senate.
Need help with a domestic violence issue? Please see our domestic violence resource section for information regarding temporary restraining orders and issues related to children and domestic violence.