Who is filing protective orders in Montgomery County Maryland?  How many residents actually get lasting protection?  Court Watch’s new report,  “A closer look at protective orders in Montgomery County,” shows that only about 37% of victims who requested protection from the court received a final protective order that provided “no contact” for one year.

Not every case meets the legal requirements for a protective order, but many cases that are denied or dismissed do.  Many victims drop their orders every year because they can’t miss work, can’t afford child care, or become discouraged with the process. Other victims go to a Commissioner Station to seek help and don’t receive any help in filling out the complicated court petition. They aren’t told that there are free lawyers and advocates who can help them and go to their next hearing with them.

Court Watch believes that improving the demeanor of clerks, bailiffs, interpreters and judges will reduce the number of orders dismissed. Judges using fundamental practices that result in better outcomes in domestic violence cases, such as staggered exits to protect victims, can also reduce dismissals.

In a recent 12 month period, county residents filed 3,339 protective orders. Only 1,228 final protective orders were granted.

In other findings:

  • Only 28% of petitioners were presented by a lawyer;
  • 83% of petitioners were female, while 16% were male; and
  • The great majority of respondents in protective order cases were from 25-59 years old (75%).

48% of petitioners from July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017 filed their petitions at District Courts. A full 42% of petitioners filed at Commissioner Stations when courts were closed, and 10% filed at the Circuit Court.