HD96 - Courtroom Security in Domestic Relations Cases

Executive Summary:
In 1999, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution 676 (Appendix A) directing the Virginia State Crime Commission to do a study of courtroom security in Domestic Relations cases. The study evolved due to legislative concerns that Domestic Relations courtrooms could be potentially hostile and dangerous environments due to the family issues and emotions involved in the cases heard by the court.


The Crime Commission found:

• The Domestic Relations caseload had increased 35% from 1993 to 1998.

• The plurality of Domestic Relations caseload in 1998 (41) were civil support cases.

• The majority of the Sheriff's offices in Virginia (52%) have 5 or less deputy sheriff positions assigned for courtroom security.

• The number of deputy sheriff positions statewide increased 53% from FY 1993 to FY 2000; although not all of these positions were for courtroom security, the Sheriff can reassign these personnel at the request of the Judge.

• Based on local Sheriffs' requests for positions and staffing standards, the Compensation Board allocated 106 new courtroom security positions to Sheriff's offices in FY 2000; there are no outstanding requests for security positions in the FY 2000 budget cycle.

• There have been no appeals to the Compensation Board to settle security disputes between Sheriffs and Judges since 1993.


Based on these findings, the Crime Commission recommended:

• The State Compensation Board should report to the Crime Commission in Fall 2000 on the number of deputy sheriffs positions requested statewide for courtroom security in the current budget cycle due February 1, 2000.

• The Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court should determine (1) the degree to which security concerns and violence occurred in Domestic Relations Court cases during Calendar Year 1999 and (2) the extent of Judicial concerns for health and safety in Juvenile and Domestic Relations courtrooms. The Executive Secretary should report the findings to the Crime Commission in Fall 2000.