CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The domestic violence petition process in the West Virginia court system will now be explained in depth with YouTube videos.
The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has released a series of short informational videos explaining the process called “Who, What, When, Where and Why of the Domestic Violence Process” with hopes of teaching the public and saving lives.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Beth Walker announced the initiative alongside other state Supreme Court Justice Evan Jenkins, John Hutchison, and Tim Armstead on Monday inside the chamber. Justice Margaret Workman was traveling with family.
“A lot of times folks do not know how the court system can help them,” Walker said during the announcement.
“We want to make our courts very accessible and make everyone, the best we can, to understand the processes.”
There are four videos to the series and one 18-minute video that shows the entire process. The videos are posted on the West Virginia Judiciary YouTube Channel and can be accessed from the West Virginia Judiciary website.
An example of one of the videos shows a person who is a potential victim filling out the right form to petition at a Magistrate Court. The video shows exactly what is on the form and what boxes to fill up.
Walker said the courts believe every West Virginian has a very basic right to be safe and secure inside their own home and hopes that this initiative can be a teaching tool.
“Maybe people think that they need a lawyer to do this and the video clearly explains that you do not,” she said.
“It shows you how you find a witness to help. The videos use regular people to explain all that.”
The videos were produced with the assistance of a grant, the Stop the Violence Against Women Grant Program.
In the most recent year of statistics available, 2017, 25.8 percent of total filings in Magistrate Courts were petitions for emergency protective orders. According to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, in that same year, there were over 11,400 domestic violence filings in Family Courts, which was 44 percent of total filings.
According to the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, at least 34 people died as a result of domestic violence in West Virginia between October 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018.
“Even if it just gives one or two people the courage to go and make the filing that they need to make, I think we will have had success here,” Walker said.