First Family Court Circuit (Brooke, Hancock and Ohio Counties) Judges Heather Wood and Joyce Chernenko will test a new system to allow victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to file petitions for protective orders without going to a courthouse.
The test will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday, September 29 in Judge Wood’s courtroom on the second floor of the Ohio County Courthouse Annex, 51 16th Street, Wheeling.
Ohio County is the second county to pilot the program, which also allows victims to attend follow-up hearings in magistrate court and family court virtually from an advocacy office, rather than in person, so they do not have to be in the same room with their alleged assailants.
Cabell County began using the new system in August. The system will become operational in Ohio County on Monday, October 4.
“The use of remote technology during the COVID-19 pandemic has built our confidence and comfort in ensuring justice is delivered in a safe and secure way. This new system will provide an option to victims to help keep them safe from the people they allege assaulted them. We also are ensuring every person’s constitutional rights are protected,” Chief Justice Evan Jenkins said.
Previously, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault had to go in person to a magistrate court to file petitions for domestic violence protective orders or petitions for personal safety orders and attend follow-up hearings.
Under the pilot, victims still can go to court buildings, but they will now have the option of going to the YWCA Family Violence Prevention Center or the CONTACT Sexual Assault Help Center to file a petition remotely with the help of a victim’s advocate. Victims should call ahead to make appointments. The YWCA number is (304) 232-2748 and CONTACT’s number is (304) 234-1783. CONTACT’s service is provided 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. At other times, victims can call CONTACT at (800) 884-7242 or the YWCA
at (800) 698-1247, the 24-hour hotlines, and speak with an advocate.
Petitions can still be filed after hours and on weekends through Ohio County Magistrate Court by calling 911.