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Cobb wants courts to have domestic violence dockets

MOBILE (AP) — State Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb said Alabama courts should have dockets solely dedicated for domestic violence cases.

“This problem is so insidious,” Cobb told a group of lawyers, law enforcement agents and those who deal with domestic violence victims.

She said it “should be the top priority for our state.”

Cobb’s remarks came Thursday during her appearance at a Mobile County Domestic Violence Task Force conference.

All Alabama courts should have dockets solely dedicated to domestic violence cases, Cobb said. One judge, who is familiar with the psychology of the abuser-victim relationship, should handle all the cases, Cobb said.

Agencies and volunteers would also be able to routinely attend hearings and reach out to victims who may be nervous about testifying against their partners.

“This is the single best way to process domestic violence cases,” Cobb said. “It is an evidence-based practice.”

Mobile’s Municipal Court already has a dedicated domestic docket, but the Mobile County District Court does not, Cobb said.

Cobb also mentioned her plan to provide court-appointed lawyers for civil cases. “Everybody’s got a right to a lawyer,” she said.

Cobb said the Alabama Bar Association is helping to better train lawyers in how to deal with domestic law, including how to help women who need to divorce abusive husbands. Often women who need to escape bad situations cannot afford a divorce.

These lawyers will also be able to help in tenant-landlord cases, Cobb said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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