Florida Senate - 2016                                     SB 988
       By Senator Ring
       29-01095-16                                            2016988__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to injunctions for protection against
    3         domestic violence; establishing a Protective
    4         Injunction Electronic Filing Pilot Program within the
    5         Office of the State Courts Administrator; providing
    6         for selection of the pilot program counties;
    7         specifying objectives of the pilot program; providing
    8         for petitioners to file petitions for injunction
    9         electronically and testify at final injunction
   10         hearings by video teleconference from remote locations
   11         in pilot program counties; providing duties of the
   12         clerks of the courts in pilot program counties,
   13         including submission of an annual report to the
   14         Legislature; requiring a report by the Office of
   15         Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability
   16         by a certain date; providing for expiration of the
   17         pilot program; providing an effective date.
   19         WHEREAS, one of the most dangerous times for a victim of
   20  domestic violence is when the victim seeks to separate from the
   21  perpetrator, such as when filing a petition for an injunction
   22  for protection against domestic violence, and
   23         WHEREAS, victims of domestic violence often must flee to a
   24  shelter or another safe and confidential location to escape the
   25  violence, and
   26         WHEREAS, it may be unsafe for victims of domestic violence
   27  to leave a safe and confidential location in order to travel to
   28  the courthouse to file a petition for an injunction, and many
   29  victims do not have transportation or funds for transportation
   30  to the courthouse, and
   31         WHEREAS, the use of communications technology can protect
   32  victims of domestic violence by allowing them to file a petition
   33  for an injunction from remote, safe locations, and
   34         WHEREAS, the majority of petitioners for injunctions for
   35  protection against domestic violence do not have an attorney to
   36  represent them at a final injunction hearing, and
   37         WHEREAS, attendance at a final injunction hearing is
   38  dangerous for a victim of domestic violence because the
   39  perpetrator has prior notice of when and where the victim will
   40  be, allowing the perpetrator to attack or threaten the victim
   41  outside of the courthouse, and
   42         WHEREAS, perpetrators often intimidate and threaten pro se
   43  petitioners in courthouse waiting rooms or during or after
   44  injunction hearings, and
   45         WHEREAS, allowing petitioners to testify at the final
   46  injunction hearing from a remote location can protect victims
   47  from further violence, threats, and intimidation, NOW,
   50  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   52         Section 1. Protective Injunction Electronic Filing Pilot
   53  Program.—
   54         (1) Effective December 31, 2016, a Protective Injunction
   55  Electronic Filing Pilot Program is established within the Office
   56  of the State Courts Administrator. The pilot program shall
   57  operate in three counties selected by the State Courts
   58  Administrator, in consultation with the Florida Coalition
   59  Against Domestic Violence, one county having a population of
   60  less than 100,000, one county having a population of at least
   61  100,000 but less than 500,000, and one county having a
   62  population of 500,000 or more.
   63         (2) The objectives of the pilot program are to develop and
   64  implement a system that permits a petitioner to:
   65         (a) Electronically file a petition for injunction for
   66  protection against domestic violence from a remote location. As
   67  used in this section, the term “remote location” includes
   68  certified domestic violence centers, undisclosed locations
   69  selected by such centers, legal aid or legal services
   70  organizations, hospitals, police departments, sheriffs’ offices,
   71  and locations within a courthouse which are unknown to the
   72  public.
   73         (b) Testify from a remote location by video teleconference
   74  or other similar method at a final injunction hearing.
   75         (3) The clerk of the court in each pilot program county, in
   76  consultation with the Office of the State Courts Administrator,
   77  the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, certified
   78  domestic violence centers, judges, and court staff, shall:
   79         (a) Establish an electronic protective order system to
   80  provide electronic access to forms and a process to file a
   81  petition for injunction for protection against domestic violence
   82  from a remote location.
   83         (b) Select computer software to assist victims in
   84  electronically completing and filing such petitions. The
   85  selected software must be user-friendly, require the petitioner
   86  to provide all of the information required by s. 741.30, Florida
   87  Statutes, when filing such a petition, and ensure that the
   88  petitioner’s data is encrypted and secure.
   89         (c) Provide appropriate training on the use of the software
   90  to the staff of any agency where the software is available for
   91  use by petitioners.
   92         (d) Establish at least one remote location outside of the
   93  courthouse for the filing of such petitions. If the remote
   94  location is not in a certified domestic violence center, the
   95  clerk of the court must inform the petitioner of the safety
   96  planning, shelter, and other services available from a certified
   97  domestic violence center.
   98         (e) Establish secure and encrypted video teleconferencing
   99  capabilities for petitioners to appear before the court from a
  100  remote location for final injunction hearings.
  101         (f) Provide appropriate software and hardware to complete
  102  the protective injunctions, provide video equipment for the
  103  remote locations, arrange for installation of sufficient
  104  bandwidth and secure encryption, and provide adequate
  105  information technology support for initial implementation,
  106  training, and ongoing program management. The Office of the
  107  State Courts Administrator shall provide the clerk of the court
  108  in each pilot program county with access to the office’s
  109  existing secure video conferencing equipment as needed.
  110         (4) The clerk of the court in each pilot program county
  111  shall submit a report by each December 31 to the President of
  112  the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The
  113  report for each county must include:
  114         (a) The number of petitions for injunctions for protection
  115  against domestic violence filed electronically and the number of
  116  such petitions filed on paper.
  117         (b) The number of final injunction hearings in which the
  118  petitioner testified remotely and the number of final injunction
  119  hearings in which the petitioner testified in person at the
  120  courthouse.
  121         (c) The cost of implementing the pilot program.
  122         (d) Any savings achieved by the pilot program.
  123         (5) The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government
  124  Accountability shall evaluate the pilot program and submit a
  125  report of its findings and recommendations to the President of
  126  the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by
  127  December 31, 2019.
  128         (6) This section expires June 30, 2020.
  129         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2016.