In the wake of the November shooting, a panel begins work on reforming the domestic violence system

A task force with a broad mandate to examine how domestic violence cases are handled by the state’s justice system held its first meeting on Tuesday.

The 20-person group, made up of judges, domestic violence advocates, law enforcement and lawyers, met remotely during the first of its eight scheduled meetings.

While discussing existing legal practices and procedures, Erin Jasina, an attorney for New Hampshire Legal Assistance, told the panel that the law, as written, is functional.

“It’s more a question of how it is applied, how the process currently in place is applied, in the sense that it is not applied consistently statewide,” she said. .

The task force was formed after a 33-year-old woman from Hampton was gunned down in November by Richard Lorman, an intimate partner, who later committed suicide.

Less than a month before the incident, the woman, who acknowledged a pattern of increasing threats from Lorman, was denied a permanent restraining order by a district court judge.

The woman survived the incident, although she was shot several times in the head as she left her job in Salem, Massachusetts.

A review of Judge Polly Hall’s decision in the case revealed that she was applying the law correctly, as well as recent precedent-setting cases, although the panel noted that a different judge might have come to a conclusion different.

The first meeting focused on existing judicial practices, including how best to guide victims through the process of applying for a protection order, when they may not have a lawyer or may not have a lawyer. lawyer available to help them.

“At the best of times, there is a lawyer, there is a lawyer, but we all know that there are not enough lawyer hours and that there are not enough lawyers. Paid legal aid lawyers, ”said Anna Barbara Hantz Marconi, Justice of the Supreme Court of NH. , who leads the group. “So how do you fill this gap? “

In subsequent meetings, the working group is expected to discuss the legal definition of “abuse,” which some advocates say does not reflect modern research on intimate partner violence. The group will also examine the wording of certain court forms and how to improve communication between the judiciary, law enforcement and lawyers.

A final report with recommendations is expected to be completed in early March.

Maria D. Ervin