2022 Yearly Report: Protective Order Outcomes
Civil protection orders are intended to protect victims of domestic violence by directing abusive partners to stop harming or threatening them and, in most cases, to stay away from them for the duration of the order. Protective orders are one of the most effective ways to stop or reduce domestic violence when paired with a strong safety plan and proper enforcement. Final protective orders have been shown to lower the risk of contact with abusers, decrease threats with a weapon and reduce injuries.
In this report, we provide the overall rates of final outcomes in protective order hearings observed by Court Watch in 2022: orders
granted, dismissed and denied. We then look at these rates by individual judge. We also examine how these outcomes are affected
by the presence of in-court support for victims from both victim advocates and attorneys. Finally, we analyze whether judges ask
petitioners certain safety-related questions or refer them to a victim advocate before agreeing to a request to dismiss their case.
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Violence doesn’t stop judge from giving father “tie-breaking vote” on child
When domestic violence survivors seek a divorce, they often run head long into a host of problems that result in an increased risk of violence for them and their children. Maryland law requires that all decisions regarding custody be made “in the best interests of the child,” yet judges regularly penalize survivors for raising concerns […]
Judge accuses credible domestic violence victim of lying
A District Court judge recently became irritated during a temporary protective order hearing and accused a traumatized petitioner of lying. In her petition, Bridget [name changed] told a credible and all-too-common story: “He was drunk and I had told him I didn’t want to be with him and he said the only way we will […]
Rate at which judges tell respondents to turn in guns varies widely
It’s the law. When a final protective order is issued in Maryland, all respondents must turn in any guns they possess to the Sheriff’s Office for the duration of the order. The rate at which District Court judges are telling respondents to turn in their guns, however, varies dramatically. One judge last year told respondents […]
District Court judge fails to warn respondents to turn in firearms
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department has many important jobs. One of their most important tasks is making sure that respondents who possess firearms turn them into the Sheriff’s Office for the length of their final protective order. Judges also have an important role to play in reminding respondents of the gun turn-in requirement at the […]
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 […]
Judge refuses protection to child at great risk
A District Court judge handling protective orders in November listened as a petitioner told her story. The petitioner described how her partner attacked and strangled her while she was holding their young child in her arms. He strangled her again on the bed, with the child lying right next to them. The respondent’s actions put the child in great danger and show a […]
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 […]