Big Changes Coming to Family Court System - 8 News NOW

Big Changes Coming to Family Court System

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LAS VEGAS -- Big changes are about to happen in Clark County Family Court following a string of incidents, including one that led to the firing of a court marshal and hearing master.

After a serious accusations from Monica Contreras, who says a court marshal ordered her into a side room at the court and sexually assaulted her, and another incident where a family court lieutenant allegedly choked a woman, family court leaders reached out to advocacy groups for help.

Together, the advocacy groups created a memo of more than 15 items they say need to be changed at the family court.

The list is something Lisa Lynn Chapman of Safenest says they've been waiting years for.

"They said, 'you're right. We are having problems. And we're going to address these.'" Chapman said.

One of the first changes will be how those on the bench are allowed to interact with domestic violence victims, like Lisa Reed.

The bruises are long gone from Reed's face, but the remarks from her court hearing master stay with her.

"It looks like someone played tennis with my face," Reed said.

She is barely able to see because of her injuries. She says the remarks from the bench were insensitive at her most vulnerable.

"Are you making a joke out of something where I was almost died?" Reed said.

Reed says there are even bigger problems for people seeking protective orders, including a lack of barriers between victims and attackers facing off in court.

"You could be sitting on the same row with the person who victimized you," she pointed out.

Family Court Judge Frank Sullivan is leading the reforms.

He says all hearing masters will undergo domestic violence education and mandatory sensitivity training.

"Just the wording you say can send the wrong message," Judge Sullivan said.

Sullivan says a lack of information is what contributed to problems in Temporary Protective Order hearings.

"To be honest, I don't think we had enough judicial oversight that was going on," he said.

Survivors like Reed are glad changes are coming but are still hesitant.

"It depends on the changes they plan on making," she said.

She says sweeping reforms are a must to help others.

There is still a committee assessing the changes requested by Safenest and other advocacy groups.

 

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