Judicial Institute on the Human-Animal Bond and the LINK Between Animal Cruelty and Interpersonal Violence: Issues in Family Law Cases
October 2 – 3, 2023
“As judicial officers, it is our responsibility to consider the importance of animals as family members in juvenile and family law decisions … The NCJFCJ is calling for judges to consider the time and resources necessary to address animal cruelty allegations associated with cases that come before their bench to achieve just results and prevent future violence against both humans and animals.”
~ Honorable John J. Romero Jr. (Ret.), Past President, NCJFCJ
NCJFCJ understands that a judge’s job is not limited to the hours spent on the bench. Judges are community leaders and, as pointed out by Judge Tennyson, “[a]nother of our full-time jobs as judges is to pay attention to the larger communities in which our courts function . . . constantly asking the question ‘how is my community addressing this particular issue and where can I fit in helping to support that work?’” From the beginning of its partnership with ALDF, NCJFCJ has focused on developing resources targeted to and for judges and judicial officers – offering insight from judges to judges and concrete practice recommendations on what judges can do to better understand the link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence and address that link in their courts and communities in a way that improves safety for families and their companion animals.
The Animal Cruelty Issues Technical Assistance Bulletin, for instance, considers the question of “What Can Judges Do?” for each of its sections. Similarly, each of the webinars developed for judicial officers includes discussions of what judges can do both on and off the bench to address animal cruelty and its impact on children, families, and communities. NCJFCJ’s PSA Template includes resources for judicial officers and an example of judicial involvement in the development of a local public awareness campaign focused on the link between animal cruelty and domestic violence.
Judicial officers are part of their communities and their leadership role within those communities can help bring others to the table, help build community-based coalitions, promote awareness, and spur action. You can find other resources specific to judges working, both on and off the bench, to improve outcomes in their communities at the NCJFCJ’s Judicial Engagement Network website and additional resources on judicial leadership and coalition building here.