Summering with GreenHouse17 – Legal Advocacy
In this fifth post from the Summering with GreenHouse17 series, Chelsey goes off the farm and joins one of our legal advocates in court.
Advocacy is at the center of what we do at GreenHouse17. Survivors need to know they’re supported, especially when navigating the legal system. This is where our legal advocates come in.
We have legal advocates in all 17 counties we serve. They are at court each day judges are ruling on domestic violence cases. In Fayette County that is Monday – Thursday from 8:30am until about 10:30 or 11am.
I was able to join advocate Katy Goins to learn more about what our legal advocates’ roles are.
I arrived at the Fayette Circuit Court at 8:30am on a Monday morning to meet Katy. She introduced me to Carmen Brown, an advocate from The Nest. They work together to make sure everyone is offered support.
Katy and Carmen go speak to all the petitioners (16 on the day I attended) on the docket for the day. Advocates answer any questions petitioners have and offer emotional support if they are upset. For a lot of petitioners, it’s their first time in court and it’s very scary for them to be facing their abuser. Family and friends are not allowed in the courtroom.
The judge works through the docket and these things mainly happen with cases –
- If the respondent wants to tell their side of the story, a hearing is scheduled.
- Cases are dismissed if the petitioner requests it. The judge always asks the petitioner if they have talked to an advocate before dismissing.
- Approving a protective order if the respondent passes on telling their side of the story.
It was an intense day and I have so much respect for the survivors going through this and the legal advocates that are there to help them.