Sixth Judicial Circuit Court unveils civil domestic violence court

Maintaining compliance and case management needed

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - "I'll order that he attend and complete the batterers' intervention program.  And then they'll put him on the compliance docket to make sure that we follow up and make sure he's enrolled and completing that program," said Sixth Judicial Circuit Judge Peter Ramsberger.
Ramsberger was speaking to a woman that was before him seeking an injunction in a domestic violence case.

The new Civil Domestic Violence Court in Pinellas County was made possible by a $300,000 grant from the Office of Violence Against Women.

"The community has experienced a lot of domestic violence in the recent past.  And it's important that we have adequate measures to address and stem domestic violence in our community," explained Deputy Court Administrator Michelle Ardabily.

The grant allows the court to keep closer tabs on the accused and to ensure they are compliant with programs they have been ordered to attend. Hiring new case managers and a special part-time magistrate will also help.

For those who work with, and provide services to victims of domestic violence, the grant money provides new hope.

"That made me thrilled, that made me really excited," recalled Linda Osmundson, after hearing the grant had been awarded.

Osmundson is the Executive Director of CASA in St. Petersburg.  She says the new court will help maintain a seamless effort in the battle against domestic violence.

"Right now, with the domestic violence problem, there's places where we hum along and we really do things right, and then there's just a little ditch there.  And what we're trying to do is to really bridge those little ditches," she explained.  

Ardabiliy said it was important for the various shelters and service providers in Pinellas County to have a hand in helping to formulate the new court.

And that the community take note of the message being sent to abusers.

"I think it's really important that we send a message that everyone has to do what the judge says they have to do," she said.

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