Seven counties in New York have just launched a pilot program whereby a person alleging abuse can get a temporary order of protection via Skype.
In order to qualify, victims seeking orders of protection must meet certain criteria to prove that they are afraid to come to court and face their adversaries in court. The process for seeking an order of protection via Skype is not difficult. Victims file their petitions for an order of protection electronically and see a judge via Skype within an hour, with help from specially trained advocates (Beth Fertig “The Judge Will See You Now.”(April 3, 2017) https://www.wnyc.org/story/order-protection-judge-can-see-you-now-skype/).
I have mixed feelings about seeking an order of protection via Skype. Having represented victims of domestic violence for the last 17 years, I understand and am sympathetic to the special concerns of victims of domestic violence. But, I also believe that a person accused of a serious offense that has far reaching ramifications, such as a loss of a job or even incarceration, should have the right to be able to face his accuser in court to scrutinize and rebut the accuser’s testimony. I am hopeful that courts will be able to use this new process in a fair way to balance the rights of all parties and deliver just verdicts.