Questionable denials of temporary protective orders

Questionable denials of temporary protective orders

It is critical that deserving victims of domestic violence get 7 day temporary orders when they need them – but that isn’t always happening in Montgomery County District Courts. A judge in Maryland need only find “reasonable cause” to believe there is bodily harm, stalking or a serious threat to issue a 7 day order. The Maryland legislature purposely set the legal standard relatively low because the danger to victims, their children, and the public, is high.

That is why it is hard to comprehend recent cases in which:

  • The petitioner said that her intimate partner was making threats to “take me out,” which she took to mean kill her with his gun. She had a prior protective order against the same individual. She was denied a temporary protective order.
  • A petitioner said her partner, who had prior convictions for second degree assault, was making threats to hurt her. The couple was in a high-conflict Circuit Court case over custody. Bailiffs had to speak to the respondent after the hearing to tell him to calm down because he had been yelling at his wife in the courtroom. She was denied a temporary protective order.
  • A petitioner showed the judge a bite mark and asked for guidance on how to get into a domestic violence shelter. She was denied a temporary protective order.

Unless there are serious flags raised about the credibility of a petitioner — and in the above cases there was not — judges should be following Maryland law and providing temporary protection to victims in dangerous situations when they petition the court for help.