Judge training may be focus of domestic violence task force

Politics

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — There were 11 domestic violence homicides in Connecticut in 2014. Five of them involved children. The most recent was just last week.

Now, the legislature wants to start a task force that would prevent these tragedies. Part of it would be a call for more training for judges.

The tragic death of seven-month-old Aaden Moreno earlier in July was compounded by the news that the child’s mother had been denied a restraining order by a judge just days before the father of the child, who has now confessed, threw the child off the Arrigoni Bridge into the Connecticut River.

“It definitely needs to be considered by this committee. I think recommendations to the judicial branch are warranted,” said Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden.

The Speaker made that clear Wednesday as he announced the co-chairs of a special task force to study the statewide response to family violence. Karen Jarmoc of Enfield will be co-chair of the task force.

“I believe that we will be making recommendations around training for judges and also for other individuals within state agencies,” she said.

In a statement, the state’s Chief Court Administrator, Judge Patrick Carroll III, says in part,

…new judges participate in a day and a half of instruction on topics such as managing the domestic violence docket… Additionally, domestic violence is frequently discussed at the judges’ annual two-day institute in June.”

Jarmoc is also head of the of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence and notes Connecticut judges do not participate in much outside their own circle.

“The ‘Office of Violence Against Women,’ for example, host a training four times a year. It’s free. It’s for Family Court Judges, and since 2007 only five Connecticut judges have participated,” she said.

Jarmoc says participation nationally by judges is about 40-percent. This is complicated by the fact that judges are part of a separate branch of government, so the legislature and the Governor cannot really tell them what to do. The Judicial Branch is expected to appoint a sitting judge to this task force which is supposed to make recommendations to the legislature by the end of the year.

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