What We Do
Initiative Two: Civility And Assistance For Victims
A full 72% of domestic violence victims in Montgomery County face a judge in protective order court without the help of a lawyer. This group is less likely to get the essential protections they need to stay safe.
There are too few victim advocates based in Montgomery County courthouses, and no advocates at Montgomery County Commissioner Stations, where almost half of all victims fill out their petitions on weekends or evenings.
When a judge makes a biased remark or is rude to a victim they may never come back to court. That's dangerous.
Court Watch Montgomery's reports have documented problematic demeanor by clerks, bailiffs, interpreters, and judges. Our verbatim quotes from one very abusive judge and our request to testify about his behavior helped lead to his resignation from the bench.
Additional Court Watch reports have provided data that underscores the vital role of lawyers and court-based advocates, and identifies critical gaps in needed services in Maryland courts.
- Court Watch is preparing a report based on data from over 2,000 hearings, on ongoing demeanor problems at court, including rudeness, intimidating demands, inappropriate humor, and biased or victim-blaming remarks.
- We are currently assessing how victims can best be helped when they come to a Commissioner Station to file a protective order or criminal charges.
- We're asking Maryland courts for data on the percentage of dismissed protective order cases at each step in the process. We suspect that many victims who go to Commissioner Stations state-wide and don't receive any help or referrals drop out of the court process.
- We're analyzing 2,000 criminal domestic violence case outcomes to assess the effectiveness of criminal charges filed by victims, without assistance, in Commissioner Stations.
Our agenda for increased civility and vital services during the court process will help empower victims. Visit Ways to Help!