When it comes to protecting victims of domestic violence, workplace harassment and other crimes, Superior Court judges must keep up with the frantic pace of paperwork filed in courts across 58 counties. It can be challenging to obtain the most updated and complete information that is necessary for judges and law enforcement officers to make quick decisions and protect people. Without a statewide system for existing restraining orders, stay away distances and child custody terms, it can be difficult to ensure that newly issued protective orders do not conflict with previously stated terms. To get this information, the hard copy of related orders are usually faxed from one county to the next, often times resulting in delays and corrupted information.
Beginning in 2007 with a $1 million grant from the California Emergency Management Agency, the Administrative Office of the Courts has been implementing a project called the California Courts Protective Order Registry (CCPOR). The CCPOR creates a statewide protective order repository which provides more complete, accessible information on restraining and protective orders. The functionality includes an image repository and the capability to upload data to the California Department of Justice’s California Restraining and Protective Orders System. The new system interface allows judges to broadly search and access relevant data quickly. Also, because the electronic copy of the orders is scanned, handwritten notes can be easily viewed.
CCPOR offers numerous improvements to court operations. Case preparation time is greatly reduced, as court staff no longer have to search through paper court files to prepare for a hearing, saving hours of staff time as well as hundreds of dollars on a daily basis.
“Police officers on the street will be able to resolve disputes and protect individuals by knowing whether an order exists and what it says. Judges will be able to make more informed decisions and avoid issuing conflicting orders,” said Santa Clara Superior Presiding Judge Jamie Jacobs-May who last summer announced her county’s participation in the new system. “Ultimately, the goal is to have a statewide registry so that throughout California, those intended to be protected, including victims of domestic violence, elder abuse, work place violence, or other crimes, will get the protection that they are entitled to receive.”
By the end of 2010, twenty county Superior Courts in Northern and Southern California were using the web-based system. The remaining 38 courts, including Sacramento County, have the option of migrating onto the system over the next few years.