Who We Are

About Us

Court Watch Montgomery reduces intimate partner violence in Maryland by ensuring victims have access to responsive justice and vital services that can stop the abuse quickly and permanently.

More than 1 million Marylanders, representing every county, gender, race, economic level and sexual orientation, are projected to be victims of domestic violence at some time in their lives. We are the only organization in Maryland collecting and analyzing data about what is actually happening in domestic violence courtrooms. Our findings show that too few domestic violence victims in Maryland are obtaining comprehensive legal protection, despite our state’s strong protective order law.

Court Watch Montgomery holds county judges and other court personnel accountable for providing a safe and respectful court environment for domestic violence victims. By doing this unique work, we create a ripple effect that challenges all Maryland judges and all court personnel to use promising practices that give victims the legal tools they need most.

This is our vision. 

This is our passion.

Help Us Create Lasting Change For Generations To Come

Staff

Carolyn Hoffmann, LGSW, Executive Director

As Court Watch Montgomery's Executive Director, Ms. Hoffmann is responsible for the overall strategic leadership and success of the organization. Ms. Hoffmann has been providing social services to underserved populations and survivors of gender and power-based violence since 2013. Because of dedication to a career with national and community level victim service programs, Ms. Hoffmann is highly skilled in managing large federal grants as well as programmatic quality improvement to streamline partnerships and processes. Ms. Hoffmann received a bachelors in Women and African American Studies from the Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Additionally, Ms. Hoffmann has certifications in human services management and the financial success of nonprofits. Ms. Hoffmann also sits on the committee for the DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program as a subject matter expert, serves as RAINN's part-time DoD Safe Helpline training supervisor, and is a licensed social worker in Washington, DC.

Amy Kass, Volunteer Coordinator

Ms. Kass oversees recruitment, training and coordination of over 70 local volunteers.  Previously she served as an employment coach, domestic violence victim advocate, bilingual community health educator, and advocate for the Latino community and minority at-risk populations. Ms. Kass also has a background in staff training and group facilitation.

Sarah Stephens, Data Manager and Analyst

Ms. Stephens oversees Court Watch data collection and entry quality control and analysis. She maintains Court Watch’s numerous databases and is busy combining 9 years of protective order data and migrating it to a more sophisticated platform to allow new types of analysis. Ms. Stephens graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in Sociology. While at University of Maryland, Ms. Stephens was a research assistant in both the Sociology and Criminology and Criminal Justice departments. Ms. Stephens has also volunteered as a Family Support Group Facilitator for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

April Jones, Bookkeeper

Ms. Jones has worked in the field of accounting for 10 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Accounting from Nova Southeastern University. She has worked in the capacity of a financial officer and finance manager with non-profit organizations. In addition, she has assisted in audit compliance of grants receivables for non-profit organizations. Her background in accounting consists of working with clients in the healthcare, media and public relations, non-profit organizations, real estate and personal business services. She has excelled in providing cash flow analysis, revenue management, and sound advice reducing business expenditures. Ms. Jones handles Court Watch's accounting and ensures compliance with all state and federal regulations. She also advises the Executive Director on a range of financial issues.

Judy Whiton
Co-Founder

Our History

Prior to founding Court Watch Montgomery, Co-Founders, Laurie Duker and Judy Whiton, worked as victim advocates, helping domestic violence victims file their petitions for protective orders and accompanying them to their hearings. They became increasingly concerned about the common practices by court personnel, including clerks, bailiffs, interpreters and judges, that left victims unsafe and with insufficient legal protection.

Laurie and Judy witnessed abusers and victims being routinely sent out of court at the same time, sometimes leading to victims being harassed and assaulted. A small number of judges, bailiffs, interpreters, and clerks poisoned the court process for desperate victims, leading victims to “drop out” of the process and return to dangerous relationships. Judges failed to tell abusers they had to turn in their guns, or that it is a crime to violate a protective order and they could be sent to jail for doing so. Judges rarely granted emergency financial support, which victims needed as a bridge to independence. They knew that change was needed in the courts in order to better safeguard victims.

Instead of working with individual victims, they established Court Watch Montgomery to push for systemic changes in our courts that could help every victim. They began by collecting data in court hearings, identifying troublesome processes, creating evidence-based reports, educating court personnel, and advocating for specific reforms. Laurie and Judy understood the value of building support among other peer organizations in the county and state and how that puts pressure on courts to institute important reforms. They believed that Court Watch could serve as a bridge between the courts and community to ensure comprehensive, coordinated services, and promote joint solutions for domestic violence victims.

Since 2010, Court Watch Montgomery's volunteers have spent thousands of observation hours in court each year. We successfully advocate for significant improvements in basic courthouse safety and judicial and court personnel demeanor, as well as increases in the judicial use of "best practices" that improve victim safety and sufficiency.

Board of Directors

Bonnie Beavers

Board Member

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Lillian Agbeyegbe

Board Treasurer

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John Ford

Board President

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Mary Silva

Board Member

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Judy Whiton

Co-Founder
Board Member

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Karin Green

Board Member

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Ginna Ingram

Board Member

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Vivian Levi

Board Member

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Laurie Duker

Co-Founder
Board Member

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