Court Advocates Adapt to New Challenges During...
Survivors see positive aspects of Zoom hearings
Within days of the courts shutting down in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NEWS Court Advocates quickly adapted to serving our clients remotely. We continued to help clients file Temporary and Permanent Restraining Orders after incidents of domestic violence in which Emergency Restraining Orders were issued. This is an important step for many DV victims as it secures and enforces their legal rights to safety as they navigate next steps in their recovery. For several weeks, our Court Advocates guided clients through the emotional and difficult process of filing the paperwork remotely. Once the courts reopened, we provided technical assistance and tips to clients on the new process, like how to use Zoom for hearings and how to use their smart phones to scan important documents.
“Most of our clients don’t have computers or printers, so they needed help with getting their paperwork submitted, filing proof of service, and being prepped for how a Zoom hearing will work,” said Alejandra Mendieta-Bedolla, NEWS Crisis Intervention Services Program Manager. “All of the paperwork is in English, so many clients need help with translation along with communication with the court about group and individual hearings.” Interestingly, Alejandra said that the often-heartbreaking mediation and custody hearings are now easier for many clients, who are fearful of confronting their abuser in the same room during a court hearing. Now with Zoom hearings, they feel safe in their home or shelter while going through the complex court process.