Are judges using simple practices that protect victims?

domestic violence courtrooms

Are judges using basic, fundamental practices in domestic violence courtrooms? Simple practices that improve case outcomes for victims? Only 53% of the time, finds our new study.  Many simple, no-cost practices, that are very important for victim safety, just aren’t being used by judges. Like a surgeon washing their hands prior to surgery, these practices […]

Judge uses best practices to increase survivor safety

Numerous “best practices” were on display in domestic violence criminal court yesterday. When survivors participate in criminal trials they deserve nothing less. One case on yesterday’s criminal domestic violence docket in Silver Spring involved a defendant who pled guilty to violating a protective order.  He had approached the mother of his child despite a final […]

Court volunteers discuss domestic violence with judges

This week 18 court volunteers spent over an hour discussing the protective order and domestic violence criminal dockets with District Court Administrative Judge Eugene Wolfe, and Judges Mitchell, Moffett, Williams and Sabett. It was a valuable opportunity to more fully understand the court’s approach to domestic violence cases and to share Court Watch’s concerns about […]

District Court judges and bailiffs provide safe exits only 56% of the time

Staggering exits at the end of every domestic violence court hearing is a simple procedure. Bailiffs can keep victims safe by holding respondents for at least 10 minutes after the petitioner leaves the courtroom. When bailiffs don’t stagger exits, many survivors are harassed or assaulted by angry abusers on the way to their cars or buses. Staggering […]

DV prosecutor stands up for victims

A prosecutor handling criminal domestic violence cases implemented a terrific “best practice” this week. She didn’t just assume that bailiffs would hold defendants at least 10 minutes so victims could safely leave the building. (In fact, bailiffs rarely ensure safe exits in criminal court).  Instead, the prosecutor informed the judge that she had a victim present who needed […]

Particularly unsafe day in criminal domestic violence court

criminal domestic violence

Some criminal domestic violence dockets go more smoothly than others. It was infuriating last week to see what happened to a victim who took the brave step to come to court to testify against her former partner, who was charged with violating her protective order six times. The defendant’s criminal record included numerous assault charges, carrying a concealed […]

New study shows judges not using rudimentary safety procedure

A new Court Watch study shows that Montgomery County’s District Court judges are not doing what they should in over two thirds of relevant cases to keep domestic violence victims safe in and around court facilities. Judges are failing to implement simple, cost-free steps that can protect victims from their abusers – even though these steps […]

Dangerous practice at District Court!

Court Watch volunteers at court have recently overheard numerous bailiffs telling domestic violence offenders they could leave the courtroom two, three or five minutes after the victim left.  This is a very dangerous practice!  Staggered exits of at least 10 minutes are essential to keep victims safe on the way to their transportation following protective […]

New report out today on Circuit Court’s practices in domestic violence cases (Nov. 2013)

Court Watch new report

Protection for victims of domestic violence in Montgomery County’s Circuit Court – Deaths from domestic violence are a continuing and preventable tragedy in Maryland. In each of the last three fiscal years, the number of domestic violence victims killed in Maryland has increased. From July 2011 through June 2012, 49 Maryland residents died as a result of domestic violence. […]

Just a piece of paper? New report on protective orders

Just a piece of paper

Just “A Piece of Paper?” : Domestic Violence Peace and Protective Orders in Montgomery County District Courts In the six months since Court Watch Montgomery issued its first report, the County’s district courts have made several significant improvements to protect victims of domestic violence. For the first time, abusers are now regularly held in the […]