HUNTSVILLE — Scott County will have a prosecutor who will specialize in domestic violence cases, District Attorney General Jared Effler announced Thursday.
Effler said that Christy Smith has been appointed as an assistant district attorney to specifically handle those domestic violence cases, and that the position has been made possible through grant funding received by the 8th Judicial District.
Smith’s appointment comes as Scott County is moving forward with a family justice center that local judicial officials say will better enable such cases to be handled. Christy Harness, coordinator of the Scott County Family Justice Center project, said Thursday that a new location — adjacent to United Cumberland Bank near the intersection of S.R. 63 and Scott High Drive in Huntsville — will be occupied this week.
Family justice centers are common concepts in more urban areas, but are rather unique to rural communities such as Scott County. In practice, they’re similar to child advocacy centers, such as the Children’s Center of the Cumberlands, allowing domestic violence victims to access various services at one location.
“It’s an exciting time for Scott County to have a family justice center,” Effler said. “History is a very good teacher. Child advocacy centers have taught us that if we have all services under one roof, we do a much better job (of handling those cases).”
At the Scott County Family Justice Center, a victim of domestic violence will first meet with a case navigator about their situation, and will be able to speak to the prosecutor without having to travel to the D.A.’s office, obtain an order of protection without having to travel to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office, and access other services, as well.
Harness also said Thursday that Big South Fork Medical Center is having one of its emergency department nurses certified for sexual assault examinations, a service that is necessary for both medical and legal reasons in sexual assault cases.