Examination of contextual effects on legal case processing has a long tradition. However, that tradition largely emphasizes jurisdiction-level variation in outcomes at the point of arrest, prosecution, or adjudication within the criminal justice system. In the area of domestic violence specifically, however, additional stages of “justice” come into play, including those surrounding the processing of civil protective orders. There has been a recent call for attention to jurisdiction-level variation in the issuing and serving of such protective orders, with particular emphasis placed on understanding more fully apparent contextual differences that correspond with rural-urban court location. This paper responds to that call with a county-level analysis of non-service of issued protective orders using data from every county in one state. Findings suggest that rurality is positively associated with rates of non-service. The effect of rurality, however, appears substantially mediated by an SES index presumed to tap resource deprivation. Measures of population heterogeneity/instability play less of a mediating role but have significant associations with non-service nonetheless.
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