CLERK OF COURT & COMPTROLLER
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA
When I was sworn in on January 5, 2021, I promised to spend specific days working side by side with Clerk of Court employees. I am committed to working in every division across our organization. I will be calling those days ClerkWork Days. My first official ClerkWork experience was in the Domestic Violence division.
Nearly 7,000 people rely on the Clerk’s Office each year seeking protective injunctions. Most injunctions requested are related to domestic violence. The demand is high and our office is open and available to help every single day.
Knowing that the many domestic violence incidences lead to fatalities, it is important to remember that the majority of domestic violence homicides are first preceded by physical and emotional abuse. Protective injunctions and restraining orders clearly reduce, and often prevent, further violence.
Our judges, courtroom staff and legal teams work diligently to ensure proper procedures and safeguards of protection are paramount. It is important for me to stress that one of my goals is to continue the work in this area by adding improvements to the victims experience wherever possible.
Making use of technology, so that community members no longer have to personally come to our offices in order to do business with us, is a top priority of mine. This will greatly benefit so many residents but will especially benefit victims of domestic abuse. Soon, anyone seeking a restraining order will be able to do so remotely. Using technology in this fashion has been a long time coming but it is important to point out that it required changes to state law and a federal grant to cover the cost for needed additional technology.
I am happy to announce that once a judge issues a restraining order, the applicant no longer has to come to the courthouse to get a certified copy. Last year, many opportunities became available online. Just recently, we created a new expansion of services in which an applicant, who was granted a restraining order can receive a certified copy sent to them through a text message.
Finally, it is noteworthy to mention that the number of applications for restraining orders was expected to increase in 2020 due to the pandemic. Instead, the number of restraining order applications for domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence, repeat violence and stalking actually decreased by nearly 10 percent.
It is my prayer that our community is safe and I want to be absolutely certain that victims have every way possible to safely reach out for help. My office will continue to work to find ways to make things easier on all who need our assistance.