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Court Discusses Jurisdiction of IDV Courts

The Court transferred into the Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Part a case alleging criminal contempt of court filed against a woman and a family offense case that the woman filed against the complaining witness. On joint application of the Court and the accused, the Court also transferred a subsequently filed criminal case against the woman into the IDV Part. The Court’s application to consolidate the two cases for trial was granted. The family offense case that the woman filed against the complaining witness was dismissed for lack of proper service on an incapacitated person. The woman moves to send her consolidated cases back to Criminal Court.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said the woman argues that an Indictment or Superior Court Information is needed to allow misdemeanor cases to be prosecuted in the Supreme Court. The State Court of Appeals has recently rejected the argument and has upheld the authority of the IDV Courts to preside over misdemeanor cases such as the cases.

The woman also argues that upon the dismissal of her family offense petition for lack of service, the criminal cases must be transferred back to the Criminal Court. The woman cites no authority for the proposition and the Court is aware of none.

When reviewing IDV eligible cases, the justice or judge presiding in such IDV Part shall determine whether or not a transfer of the case to that Part would promote the administration of justice. If the justice or judge determines that it would, he or she may order such a transfer and all further proceedings shall be conducted therein. The law further provides that when cases are disposed of in an Integrated Domestic Violence Part, subsequently filed cases are also IDV eligible.

Clearly, if the Supreme Court retains jurisdiction over subsequently filed cases, the Court cannot be divested of jurisdiction when one of the original cases are disposed of either by settlement or court order. A Brooklyn Criminal Lawyer said that such a result would promote forum shopping since under the accused party’s theory, if a particular accused believed it was advantageous to return to the Criminal Court, he or she could withdraw the companion civil petition and thus secure an automatic return to the lower court. Indeed, to take the analysis one step further, an accused could even be encouraged to file a civil proceeding which can be withdrawn to ensure a way of returning to the lower court at some point during the IDV proceeding. The argument is not supported by law and runs contrary to the intentions and purposes of the IDV Part.

The woman also argues that her constitutional due process rights will be infringed upon if a bench trial is held before the IDV Judge. She claims that the Court was privy to information made available in the Family Court case that the Court would not otherwise have known. The Court rejects such argument because it was the woman who filed the family offense petition against the complaining witness. Accordingly, any information the Court had was information alleged by the accused woman. Clearly, the woman would not have alleged facts adverse or prejudicial to herself. Furthermore, the woman’s family offense case was dismissed for lack of personal service and therefore, the Court never reached the merits of her claims. Even if the case was brought against the woman (which it was not) and the Court received adverse substantive information about the woman (which it did not), there is still no legal impediment to the IDV Judge presiding over the criminal bench trial. The Appellate Courts have repeatedly held that trial judges by reasons of learning, experience and judicial discipline, are uniquely capable of distinguishing the issues and of making an objective determination based upon appropriate legal criteria, despite awareness of facts which cannot properly be relied upon in making the decision.

The woman’s motion to transfer her criminal dockets back to the Criminal Court is denied. The administration of justice is best served by retaining all cases that were IDV eligible when transferred until all proceedings have been concluded and to transfer into IDV otherwise eligible subsequently filed cases.

Laws are meant to protect the people and the justice system is continuously finding ways to be fair and square. When you experience confusion in dealing with your domestic-related legal actions whether because of a domestic violence charge, sex crimes or an assault charge, a NY Domestic Violence Lawyer can help you understand your case better. If you are dealing with criminal lawsuits, feel free to call any of the New York Criminal Attorneys from Stephen Bilkis and Associates.

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