Hillsborough County Clerk of Courts Pat Frank said the power to help domestic violence survivors may be in the palm of your hand.
“With electronics the way they are progressing. Let’s us use it,” she said.
She’s working on a new plan to use video conferencing programs like FaceTime and Skype to allow
people to take an oath and confirm their identity, giving statements for domestic violence injunction for protection without having go to the court house.
Frank got the idea after trying to help a friend’s daughter file an injunction over a weekend when the court house is closed.
“It struck me because this woman was in such stress. She had been physically abused and even stripped of her clothing and she had to run across the street to try and get help,” she said.
State statute requires an oath is given in person, but it was written decades ago, way before iPhones and laptops.
“If you don’t have transportation or you have kids and have to ride the bus, or if you work and it’s a challenge to even find time in your day to get to the court house to get somewhere to file the injunction for protection, I think any use of technology is a way to reduce those barriers is a great idea,” said Roseanne Cupoli with The Spring Tampa Bay.
“We have deputy clerks who live all over the county who could be on call, who could take care of this in the middle of the night if they had to,” said Frank.
If you can’t make it to the court house and want to file a domestic violence injunction after hours, you can turn to The Spring of Tampa Bay for help on weekends and holidays.
If the plan moves forward, Hillsborough county could be a pilot program before the video oath procedure is used state wide.