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Beyond the Gatekeepers: Court Professionals' Self-Reported Attitudes About and Experiences with Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Cases

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 30 Issue: 3 Dated: June 2003 Pages: 349-373
Date Published
25 pages

This article examines court professionals’ opinions about and experiences with misdemeanor domestic violence cases.


While much research has focused on police decisionmaking in domestic violence cases, scant research has focused on the court processing of domestic violence cases. In order to fill this void, the authors examined the interview and survey data from 62 municipal court professionals, including judges, prosecutors, and public defenders. The survey instrument and interviews focused on the court professionals’ opinions about both what should be and what actually were the legal variables that most commonly influence domestic violence court decisions. Results revealed that, consistent with prior research, court professionals place heavy emphasis on victim participation as a major influence on court decisionmaking. On the other hand, victim advocate participation and batterer intervention workers’ opinions were reported as the least influential variables in court decisionmaking. Another important finding revealed that court professionals believed case sentences had little impact on domestic violence recidivism. These findings indicate that victim participation is a crucial variable to the successful processing of domestic violence cases and, thus, future research should focus how to enable more victims to participate fully in the court process. Tables, references

Date Published: January 1, 2003