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Protective Order Pro Bono Project offers training

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For the last 10 years, volunteer attorneys and students in central Indiana have been helping domestic violence victims obtain protective orders.

Before embarking on this process, volunteers must be trained on the purpose and use of protective orders, develop an understanding of what victims are going through and the possible reasons why they may not have sought help before, and what victims are thinking and concerned about while they’re meeting with advocates.pro bono

The Protective Order Pro Bono Project will host a training session for volunteers April 15 at the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence offices at 1915 W. 18th St. in Indianapolis. The training will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

That training will include information about the dynamics of abusive relationships, as well as information about the somewhat new protective order online registry and a pilot project in Indianapolis hospitals.

Volunteers are asked to register by April 8. ICADV Legal Director Kerry Hyatt Blomquist said the training sessions are typically well attended. She hopes to fill 50 spots.

Participants will receive five hours of free CLE credit, including one hour of ethics, in exchange for taking one pro bono case in the next 12 months. Lunch will be provided.

While this training will be specific to the project that works with advocates handling protective orders in Marion County courts, Blomquist said participants from around the state are welcome to attend. Past trainings have included participants from outside of central Indiana who wanted to start similar projects in other counties.

Trainings include an introduction and history of ICADV and POPBP. One of the latest expansions, and something that will be emphasized in the training session, is a pilot program with POPBP and Indianapolis hospitals Wishard and Indiana University Health, formerly Methodist Hospital.

As part of that program, which began last year on a limited basis, emergency room physicians and nurses who help victims of domestic violence offer their patients information on available resources. While still in the hospital, patients are also offered the option of meeting with someone from POPBP to help them file a petition.

kerry blomquist Blomquist

Previously, hospitals would share information, including how to set up a safety plan and contact an advocate, but the new program helps remove some of the barriers, such as transportation, that may have prevented patients from seeking help.

Sarah Smith, a forensic nurse examiner at Wishard, said that her emergency room experience working with patients who’ve been involved in violence; particularly sexual assault and domestic violence, but also child abuse, elder abuse, and other victims of crimes; has revealed that some victims have a distrust of the police or criminal justice system and prefer not to file a report with a police officer.

However, she said, this program lets them see there is the civil option of filing for a protective order in court.

“If someone in the ER discloses that (she is) a victim of domestic violence, I’ll see them, talk with them, address any medical needs, and I will document – if they want me to – their injuries with photographs and body mapping, which is essentially charting in writing their injuries, and drawing pictures,” she said. “I’ll also offer any assistance, such as shelter placement, how to file a police report, and help patients find resources for counseling. This Protective Order Pro Bono Project is new here, but pretty exciting.”

Smith said she offers this option to anyone who comes through the door who seems to be a candidate. She added that because the majority of Wishard’s patients don’t have insurance, or if they do it is provided by the county, they cannot afford an attorney. While not everyone takes advantage of the service to file a petition for a protective order, patients who turn it down might still take information about how to file later.

Before the pilot program, she said, she could still put a victim in a shelter, but for protective orders she would have to refer them to the police department. She’d give patients the number for the police department and an advocate. With the pilot program, patients seem to be less hesitant to contact ICADV.

“We stress to them, ‘We can’t make you leave the situation,’ because it may not be the right time,” Smith said. “They may have to make arrangements for children. They may not have a dime to their name. They may have extra things going on in their lives. At least they know that’s out there and they’re (POPBP) here for them when they’re ready.”

Blomquist is also excited about the program and that it is possible because of the online protective order registry program, which was launched in July 2009. With that program, advocates can log into an online program and work with petitioners to fill out the needed information in the victim’s own words.

Blomquist asks that each person who attends training for CLE credit take on at least one case in the 12 months following the training. She said some cases might take no more than five to 10 hours of the attorney’s time, and law students are a tremendous resource for the victims and the attorneys. POPBP encourages those who’ve been trained to do more if their schedules allow.

Currently, Blomquist has about 100 volunteers she can contact. If an attorney and a volunteer can take the same case, she pairs them up. In many cases, she’ll continue to pair the same attorney and law student on subsequent cases; there have been a number of mentor relationships as a result of these pairings.

If a volunteer is not available to take a particular case when called, Blomquist keeps that volunteer’s name on the list and will contact that person the next time.

For more information about the upcoming training or POPBP, contact Blomquist at kblomquist@icadvinc.org or call 317-917-3685, ext. 8. Register for the training at www.icadvinc.org.•

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  1. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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