Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

County Courthouse Now a Safer Place

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

County Courthouse Now a Safer Place

Article excerpt

Domestic violence victims awaiting hearings in the Bergen County Courthouse now have a place to go to avoid encountering those they have accused.

And the courthouse now has a restored place where parents can safely drop off their children as they attend to court matters.

The efforts of the courthouse staff and a supporting private group to provide those secure areas were on display Wednesday with the ceremonial opening of the Waiting Room and the reopening of the Children's Court Care Center at the courthouse.

The Waiting Room's importance to those facing the trauma of domestic crisis and its ensuing legal actions was noted by Superior Court Assignment Judge Peter E. Doyne.

"It provides victims a separate area in the courthouse to try to reduce further difficulties," Doyne said. "When someone comes to the courthouse, we want them to feel secure."

He said that, on average, about 10 domestic violence complaints are filed each day in the county -- a total of about 3,650 yearly.

"It's truly an alarming number," he said.

In consultation with the Bergen Family Court and Bonnie Mizdol, presiding judge of the court's Chancery Division-Family Part, as well as the Bergen County domestic violence services providers, the need for a separate waiting area was determined.

The National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County Section, an organization of volunteers and advocates striving for social justice, had a huge impact in the opening of the Waiting Room. The organization donated everything from the furniture to the flooring and is providing volunteers to serve as a comforting and protective presence. There also is information about county social services readily available on a TV loop and in brochures provided in the room.

The Waiting Room was set to open in October 2012, but Superstorm Sandy struck and the opening was postponed.

The storm also severely damaged the Children's Court Care Center to such an extent that it needed to be closed and completely restored. …

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