Judge McDaniel honored for her work

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Allegheny County President Judge Donna Jo McDaniel was honored with a state award Tuesday for her work with domestic violence court.

The Governor's Victim Service Pathfinder Award was presented during a noon ceremony in the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse on Grant Street.

Judge McDaniel, who became president judge in 2008, was nominated by the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

In her nominating letter, the center's executive director, Shirl Regan, wrote that Judge McDaniel deserved the award for not only creating the innovative court but for "her personal judicial style that empowers victims and for her leadership and support of the work of victim service agencies."

In 2002, Judge McDaniel began holding specialized sessions to deal with violations of protection from abuse orders in criminal court, instead of in family court where they had typically been heard.

Since then, she has expanded the court into hearing domestic violence probation cases, repeat batterers and review hearings.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. also submitted a nominating letter, writing, "her judicial approach towards the issue of domestic violence should serve as a model to all members of the judiciary."

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