ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., April 29, 2022 — Members of the community joined local elected officials, judges and law enforcement in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for the new St. Johns County Memorial Garden, a tranquil courtyard garden at the St. Johns County Judicial Center dedicated to victims and survivors of violence.
“The new St. Johns County Memorial Garden is the centerpiece of the judicial complex courtyard and a place for courthouse visitors and staff to pause and reflect,” St. Johns County Clerk of Court and Comptroller Brandon J. Patty said. “With this garden, we remember those in our community who have suffered at the hands of others and offer families and friends a safe, serene place to find comfort and healing.”
The memorial garden project has been a year-long collaborative initiative between the St. Johns County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller, the Seventh Judicial Circuit, St. Johns County and the Sheriff’s Office, State Attorney’s Office, St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach police departments and the Betty Griffin Center.
For a decade, a small garden and monument dedicated to the memory of two members of the St. Johns County community, Stephanie “Theresa” Singleton-Gilliam and Laura Messina, was located outside the courthouse’s south entrance. Over the years, the garden had begun to deteriorate, and its location made maintenance difficult, Clerk Patty said.
In addition to moving the garden inside the courthouse walls, the project added a memorial plaque, benches and new landscaping to the courtyard.
The Clerk of Court’s office makes the safety of individuals seeking protection from domestic violence one of its top priorities. The Clerk’s office partners with law enforcement and the court system to assist domestic violence survivors by processing protective injunctions (sometimes called restraining orders) at no cost to the filer.
Court-ordered injunctions force abusers, by law, to stop abuse or threats against domestic violence victims. Injunctions prevent abusers from coming near or contacting victims, and make abusers leave the home or give temporary custody of shared children to the victim.
Every year, about 10 million people become victims of domestic violence, which equates to around 20 people every minute. Last year, 279 domestic violence injunctions were filed in St. Johns County, and nearly 72,000 were processed statewide. Many of these resulted in temporary and permanent injunctions.
The St. Johns County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s office offers resources if you or someone you know is confronted with domestic violence. Visit us online at stjohnsclerk.com/courts/family-law/injunctions or call us at 904-819-3674 to learn more about filing an injunction.