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 numerous practices.
At the meeting Court Watch reiterated the tremendous value of court-ordered safe child exchange and visitation services for the entire family when there has been domestic violence. Volunteers noted that, in addition to protecting victims and their children from harm, center personnel are often able to de-escalate conflicts between parents, which may avoid future trips to court.
Volunteers and judges also discussed:
- Provision of Emergency Family Maintenance financial support as part of final protective orders;
- Oral notification of those convicted of violent crimes that they are no longer eligible to possess or purchase guns;
- Staggered exits in protective order and criminal domestic violence dockets;
- Possible use of a judicial checklist to ensure the use of best practices during hearings;
- Moving the witness box further from defendants in Rockville’s criminal DV docket; and
- Judicial training on domestic violence issues.