Following is the Executive Summary of an evaluation of court-based Domestic Violence Advocates in Alaska. The full report can be seen at: http://viewer.zoho.com/api/urlview.do?url=http://www.ajc.state.ak.us/Reports/DVReport8-07.pdf  

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Executive Summary

The Alaska Court System asked the Judicial Council to evaluate parts of the court’s domestic
violence programs funded by the GTEA program.
The Council assessed the effectiveness of court-based advocates for petitioners in the protective order process, collected data about the civil protective order petitions filed in Anchorage, and interviewed practitioners about procedures for
making decisions in the protective order process.
Advocate Effectiveness
• Advocates served more female petitioners than other groups, but in most areas also served
male petitioners, and some respondents.
• Generally, court staff said that advocates performed many tasks that court staff could not: they
helped petitioners organize their materials for their petitions, calmed upset parties, referred
parties to resources, and explained the court processes in detail. Court staff believed that
advocates performed these tasks well and greatly benefitted the court and petitioners.
• In Anchorage and Kenai there were extended periods when the advocates were not present.
Court staff missed their presence and encouraged their return.
• Relationships between advocates and court staff generally were good, although all
stakeholders wanted regular meetings to work out problems. In some instances, lack of
direction and guidance about the advocate’s role led to misunderstandings. Court staff and
advocates resolved concerns about the court’s need to be perceived as neutral and impartial.
Hearings on Ex parte Petitions
• The Council found that judicial officers at all locations decided some ex parte petitions without
a hearing. Palmer decided almost all of its ex parte petitions in this fashion. Anchorage and
Fairbanks decided some ex parte petitions without a hearing, and Kenai held hearings on most
petitions.
• The reasons given for deciding ex parte petitions without a hearing included due process and
statutory concerns (Palmer), time constraints (Anchorage), staff and space constraints (Palmer
and Fairbanks), comfort and reduced trauma for the petitioners (Anchorage), and petitioner
safety (Palmer).

Anchorage Civil Order Petition Data for 2006-2007 Compared to 2002, and 2003-2004
• Judicial officers granted a substantially lower percentage of long term orders in 2006-2007,
when compared to 2002-2004. Judicial officers denied long term orders in 2006-2007 at twice
the rate they did in the earlier years, and petitioners asked for dismissal of long term orders at
higher rates than in 2002-2004.
• More respondents had attorneys at long term hearings; this may have been in part related to
statutory changes that increased the consequences resulting from long term orders.
• There were no significant changes between the study periods in the overall number of civil
protective petitions filed in the Anchorage court, and no significant change in the number of
civil protective cases reassigned to superior court judges.
Suggestions for Improvements
Interviewees suggested improving the process by:
• Having more advocates available, for more hours.
• Supplementing advocate work with a neutral manual about the civil protective order process,
court resources, and other resources.
• Clarifying the advocates’ roles, having a clear supervisory structure, and holding regular
meetings with advocates and court staff to help resolve problems that arise.
• Providing safe and adequate space for the advocates and those whom they assist