(Fort Wayne, Ind.) – Women and men alleging they have been victims of violence will soon have a new resource available to assist in the filing of protection order requests in Allen Superior Court.
Superior Court is recruiting candidates for the newly created position of Protection Order Specialist. The position was approved in March by Allen County Council and is being funded without an increase in the Court’s 2019 budget.
More than 3,500 times each year, individuals alleging they have been victims of domestic or family violence, a sex offense or stalking file for an order of protection in Allen Superior Court, under the Indiana Civil Protection Act. Such orders are sought by individuals alleging that they or their children are in danger of being harmed by someone in their life.
Most protection order requests are filed without the help of an attorney. The application for a protection order is lengthy and requires a great deal of information. Frequently, these documents are incomplete when filed, causing delays to the hearing process, as staff and even the Magistrate hearing the request are required to find critical missing information.
“Deciding to leave an abusive or violent situation is traumatic enough,” said Judge Craig J. Bobay, Administrative Judge of the Allen Superior Court Civil Division. “Many victims are abused again and again before they make that choice. “We are working to fundamentally redesign the protection order system to make sure the system itself is not an obstacle to individuals trying to help themselves.”
While the Court cannot provide legal advice for those seeking protective orders, it can provide technical assistance for those filling out the complex application. That is precisely what the Protection Order Specialist position will do.
In Allen County, orders for protection are sought via a petition filed in Superior Court’s Civil Division, specifically in Small Claims Court. The Protection Order Specialist will be based at Small Claims and will be the first point of contact for individuals seeking an order of protection.
The Protection Order Specialist will review applications for completeness and assist the petitioner with gaps or errors in information. The Protection Order Specialist will also enter necessary information into the Indiana Protection Order Registry.
“The interests of a person alleging abuse are best served by the efficient consideration of their request for a protective order,” said Judge Jennifer L. DeGroote, a former Superior Court Magistrate who heard thousands of protection order petitions. “This new position is a true customer service innovation for the Court. It will allow us to get people through a difficult time in their lives with minimal delay.”
The Protection Order Specialist will provide petitioners with information about what to expect through the court procedures including future hearings, service of the paperwork and how to report violations of the Protection Order. While the Protection Order Specialist cannot serve as a victim advocate, the position will serve as a conduit between petitioner and other community services.
Interested individuals may apply for the Protection Order Specialist position online by visiting www.allencountyjobs.us.