Sullivan, Coons Introduce E-SERVICE Act to Better Protect Survivors of Domestic Violence

Legislation explores serving protection orders electronically

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Chris Coons (D-DE) yesterday introduced S. 2397, the Electronic Service for Effectiveness, Reduction of Violence, and Improved Court Efficiency (E-SERVICE) Act, legislation to push protection orders into the 21st century, establishing new pilot program grants to explore the electronic service of protection orders. 

“Women in abusive situations rely on the force of a court order to protect themselves and, oftentimes, their children,” said Senator Sullivan. “Unfortunately, we know that traditional methods of properly serving an order can be expensive, dangerous, and shockingly ineffective. Perpetrators are often able to evade delivery, making orders useless and unenforceable. Senator Coons and I have introduced the E-SERVICE Act to allow courts to explore solutions to these challenges by sending orders directly to a perpetrator electronically, saving time and taxpayer dollars in the process, and better protecting victims.” 

“Civil protection orders play a crucial role in our justice system,” said Senator Coons. “When protection orders are not served, survivors of domestic violence remain vulnerable. I am pleased to work with Senator Sullivan on the E-SERVICE Act, a bill to incentivize pilot programs for electronic service of civil protection orders. By encouraging law enforcement, victims’ advocates, defense counsel, and court personnel to work together, this bill has the potential to advance public safety, judicial efficiency, and due process.” 

The E-SERVICE Act authorizes the U.S. Department of Justice to award up to 10 pilot programs to state and tribal courts, offering them the opportunity to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of serving protection orders electronically. The awarded courts will consult with various local stakeholders in developing and implementing the program, including judges, law enforcement, attorneys, technology experts, and victim advocates. The courts are required to report to Congress on the effectiveness, technology utilized, due process concerns, and best practices that could be considered for nationwide implementation. 

The legislation has been endorsed by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Jewish Women International, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ).

“We are so grateful to Senator Sullivan and Senator Coons for introducing this life-saving bill that will encourage electronic service of protection orders,” said Ruth Glenn, CEO and president of NCADV. “So many abusers are able to evade service under our current antiquated and under-resourced systems. This bill will bring service of protection orders into the twenty-first century, creating better enforcement options and greater survivor safety.”

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