NEW INITIATIVES IN FAMILY COURT
FAMILY COURT’S GUN COURT COMBATS JUVENILE GUN CRIME
Delaware has witnessed a trend towards a “street gun culture” among juvenile delinquents over the last decade, particularly in the City of Wilmington. According to statistics from the Criminal Justice Council, 20% of all perpetrators of Wilmington gun crime in 2008 were juveniles between the ages of 14 and 16 years of age.
Responding to this alarming trend, Family Court Chief Judge Chandlee Johnson Kuhn initiated a Gun Court exclusively for juveniles in New Castle County in April 2009 and expanded the program statewide the following July. The results have been promising. Working with the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Public Defender, and the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services, Family Court has created a single, streamlined forum to foster a more efficient judicial response to juvenile gun crime. Gun Court provides most juvenile defendants with a single forum in which to resolve these cases quickly while providing sentencing that includes appropriate treatment, rehabilitative efforts and close court supervision. Data collected in Gun Court also allows the Court to predict trends in juvenile gun crime so that the State may direct its resources more economically and effectively towards prevention and rehabilitation.
FAMILY COURT’S nCOURT INITIATIVE EXPANDS
Family Court’s convenient web-based filing system for court pleadings, which began in June 2009 with online custody filings, has expanded. Online forms and filings are now available for divorce and annulment, and motions with guardianship filings are on the horizon. An Atlanta based government services company called nCourt has facilitated this project.
Over the past few months, there has been significant growth in the number of individuals utilizing this resource. The added flexibility of filing when it’s convenient for the litigant has proven to be a valuable benefit which Family Court and nCourt have been pleased to provide. To follow Family Court’s progress in the development of this system, information and a link to the nCourt filing page is available on their website at http://courts.delaware.gov/family.