Gateway Domestic Violence Center in Gainesville was awarded more than $10,000 this month for a program helping low-income domestic violence victims find legal representation.
The Judicial Council of Georgia Standing Committee on Grants gave $10,386 for fiscal year 2018 out of a total $2.4 million.
“The funds are used to provide direct civil legal assistance to low-income Georgia victims of domestic violence and their children,” according to the council.
The funds were first designated by the Georgia General Assembly in 1999. Gateway Executive Director Jessica Butler said the center has been receiving the grant money for at least a decade.
“The Superior Court judges in our circuit are very supportive of our program and lent their support to our application,” Butler said.
The remaining money awarded by the council went to six other Georgia entities, including the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, the Georgia Legal Services Program and the Northeast Georgia Shelter Collaborative.
Butler said the money is used for victims applying for temporary protective orders. A person would go to the courthouse and speak with an advocate about the order before they are determined eligible for the help.
“For most of the people that get a protective order, this is their first encounter with Gateway,” Butler said.
Representation is “critical,” Butler said, especially if the party on the other side has a lawyer.
“We want to try to help them level the playing field so that their voice is heard in court,” she said.
The most commonly contracted attorney for Gateway is Anne Bishop, who said she has been assisting in about 100 Gateway cases per year since November 2014.
“We’re advocating for their protection and being able to continue to go forward in a safe manner,” Bishop said.