2023 Staggered Exit Supplement: Montgomery County District Court Increased Use of Staggered Exits in Intimate Partner Violence Hearings from 2022 to 2023

Staggered exits are a nationally recognized best practice intended to keep victims safe, allowing them to leave the courtroom first after a protective order hearing, with their alleged offender leaving no sooner than 15 minutes thereafter. When properly executed, staggered exits reduce the risk of confrontation between the parties outside the courtroom and enable victims and their families to get safely to their transportation home. Staggered exits can help lessen trauma and increase the likelihood that victims will return to court when necessary to obtain a final order. Court Watch has seen the use of staggered exits fluctuate by year and vary by judge, despite the fact that they are cost-free and pose no significant burden to the courts. In our 2023 supplement, we are pleased to report that use of staggered exits in Montgomery County District Court increased by 20 percentage points in the one year since we last reported on use of this best practice. We applaud the judiciary’s commitment to use of this safe and free protocol.