In my last year on the Bench we ( the State Court of Cobb County ) added the misdemeanor family violence court ( treatment program ) to our list of responsibilities. The process had begun a year earlier but like all things governmental the process took awhile. The program is a diversion program where at the sole discretion of the prosecutor a case may be sent into a treatment program for the individual accused instead of being prosecuted for trial. The accused is required to undergo a treatment program for violence and / or alcohol/drug addiction. Again, the decision on which case to “divert” into the program is solely up to the prosecutor. The judges’ role is simply to preside over the process in the courtroom and to sign the appropriate orders in each case. Each condition of the treatment process has to be completed in a timely manner and the failure to do so is a basis for being removed from the program and returned to criminal prosecution. This process to add the diversion program began during my two year tenure as Presiding Judge of Division Two of the Court. Thus, it was my turn every fifth Friday to immerse myself in the matters of family violence.
My experience on the Bench lead me to believe that most of the people who I saw in court I would never see again for violence related problems. Ordinarily, the few who will not change their behavior are the ones who read or hear about in the media. Now, to remind you, I spent thirteen years on the Bench before returning to private practice. Before that I practiced law for 21 years. In those twenty years I handled many different types of cases which included violent behavior. However, my one year presiding over the family violence court was shocking in that I was astonished at the number of young people who resort to violent behavior and the number of women in the program not as victims but as the criminal defendant. Evidently, the landscape has change dramatically over the last decade or more I don’t know the cause of this phenomena nor its cure but I believe that it is a trend which will affect our entire society.