Domestic Violence Victims and Advocates Report Breakdowns in Stay-Away Order Processing Amid COVID-19

June 10, 2020

Hannah Groedel, an attorney with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services — a group that provides free legal aid to low-income people —  told The Lens that during Gov. John Bel Edwards’  stay-at-home order, her clients weren’t receiving copies of their protective orders, and those orders weren’t available in a statewide database relied upon by law enforcement. 

“It used to just be rote procedure,” she said. “You would go to the courthouse, file a petition, it would automatically get scanned in and sent to the registry, and law enforcement could pull it up and enforce it.”

But according to Groedel and other advocates, COVID-19 has created gaps in the administration of that “rote procedure.” Those gaps have created uncertainty for survivors of domestic violence.

“So many systems of communication broke down during COVID that it was impossible to get a clear answer,” agreed Eva Lessinger, the director of programs at the Family Justice Center.

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