When domestic violence victims request protection orders against their abusers in Kane County, Ill., they can expect police protection almost immediately. The county Circuit Court Clerk's office has launched an automated system that has changed how orders of protection are completed, submitted, reviewed and approved.

Requests for protection orders may originate from advocates at shelters, legal aid attorneys, court personnel or directly from domestic violence victims. In each instance, the forms have to be routed to judges, clerk staff and sheriff employees, as well as to the victims and any legal counsel. Previously, victims had to carry their signed orders of protection from the judge to the sheriff's office, a journey that could be difficult for those who relied on public transportation and might not be able to get to the sheriff's office for days.

To ease the process, Kane County designed an online application that anyone can use to enter information for orders, saving it directly into the circuit court clerk's database. Then, the information is imported into forms using software by San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe. The software automatically inserts information that repeats on multiple forms into all appropriate pages, then routes the completed electronic forms for a court hearing and judicial approval, and finally to the sheriff's department. Now, instead of taking up to six hours to process requests, the county can complete them in one hour. In some cases, police can serve the protection order to the abuser before the victim leaves court. “Processes that took hours can now be handled in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost,” says Deborah Seyller, Clerk of the Circuit Court.

Project:
Protection order automation

Jurisdiction:
Kane County, Ill.

Agency:
Circuit Court Clerk's Office

Vendor:
San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe

Date completed:
Dec. 26, 2006

Cost:
$240,000