Local Judge worried about ‘significant increase’ in domestic violence cases

by Jack Mayne

Judge Veronica Alicea-Galvan last week told the Des Moines City Council her court recently has had a large increase in both domestic violence and drunk driving cases.

In her seventh annual report to the council, she said the “significant increase” was through September.

“We had 156 domestic incidents that have been filed with this court – those are just the ones filed with this court,” Judge Galvan said. “Through the same period last year, we had 113.”

In addition, she said that during 2013 her court had 35 driving under the influence (DUI) cases but to date this year, there have been 55 DUI cases.

“I don’t know why we are getting so many and these are very serious DUIs,” Galvan said, and those cases have contributed to the increased number of days Des Moines used the jail system. The jail increase is partly because DUI cases have mandatory jail time.

This is important, she said, because DUI and domestic violence cases are the “most significant, impactful cases that a municipal court will deal with,” said Galvan. “These are the ones that impact public safety to the greatest degree, these are the ones that present a significant threat to the safety of our community.

“We see it as impacting children in our schools, we see it impacting the residents and we see it impacting neighbors, and friends and families,” the judge told City Council members.

No advocate
Judge Galvan said the victims of violence cases are not being represented because a former victim’s advocate has left the city’s employ.

Now these people are “not being advocated for.”

“The victim advocate is important because that person can make contact with them, get them on board from the beginning and, potentially, make (the outcome) more successful,” she said.

The judge also said discussions about adding city police officers would affect her court.

“We have to continue to be innovative in how we approach what we have so one of the things we are looking at is having a part-time probation officer who will deal with some those probation issues that we ask people to do, which is go to treatment, hook them up with resources that are available. Right now, the person who monitors all that is myself. I am not a trained probation officer …”

Judge Galvan also told City Council members that hers was the only district or municipal court in the state when Spanish speakers can conduct their case in their native language, something she said she was particularly proud of.


One Response to “Local Judge worried about ‘significant increase’ in domestic violence cases”
  1. Kristy says:

    My hope is that more people are reporting DV and DUI offences and that is why there are more. Hopefully we as a community are making sure each other are safe and that we will not accept this type of behavior.

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