New ‘comfort room’ opens inside Duval County Courthouse

The space provides a place for parents and children appearing for domestic violence proceedings.

  • By Max Marbut
  • | 12:00 a.m. February 14, 2024
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
Duval County Magistrate Donna Vincent in the new Domestic Violence Comfort Room at the Duval County Courthouse.
Duval County Magistrate Donna Vincent in the new Domestic Violence Comfort Room at the Duval County Courthouse.
Max Marbut
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A new public amenity opened Feb. 6 at the Duval County Courthouse with the dedication of the Domestic Violence Comfort Room on the second floor, next to Courtroom 210.

Duval County Magistrate Donna Vincent presides over the Early Childhood Court and the Family Treatment Court, two of the 4th Judicial Circuit’s dependency problem-solving courts.

After participating in the Trauma Informed Courts workshop in November facilitated by the Office of State Courts Administrator and the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar at the Duval County Courthouse, Vincent was inspired to look for ways to mitigate the impact of trauma that may be faced by people encountering the justice system.

The court handles about 500 domestic violence cases, including injunctions and protective orders, each month.

Sometimes the length of the dockets means that children must wait in the hallway outside the courtroom with their parents who are waiting for their case to be called.

“It is an everyday thing. Sometimes, they have to sit for hours,” Vincent said.

The solution Vincent came up with is a “comfort room,” similar to a space available in the courthouse for interviewing children involved in dependency proceedings.

With the support of 4th Circuit Chief Judge Lance Day and Trial Court Administrator Eve Janocko, Conference Room 2424, across the hall from the courtroom where domestic violence cases and injunction hearings are held, is now the “DV Comfort Room.” 

Parents can use the room if they have no other option but to bring their children along to their hearings.

“If you are forced to bring your children, we want to make sure you have a safe space to take a breath,” Vincent said.

The room provides an alternative to waiting in the hallway.

Furnished for comfort, it is stocked with infant- and toddler-friendly books, toys and activities with the intent to help reduce the stress parents and children may be experiencing while waiting for their hearing.

“The clerk’s office provided the furniture and people who work in the courthouse donated the books and supplies,” Vincent said.

Access to the room, which is locked when not in use, may be granted by asking the bailiff outside of Courtroom 210.



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