Who We Are

About Us
History
Q&A
Board & Staff
Awards

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. Court Watch is 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 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.

Court Watch Montgomery works toward the day when all domestic violence victims coming to court for legal protection are safe, treated with respect, and receive comprehensive legal protections that help stop their abuse.

This is our vision. 

This is our passion.

Help Us Create Lasting Change For Generations To Come

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.

Together, Laurie and Judy shifted gears. 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's volunteers have spent thousands of observation hours in court each year making possible the first-ever, large-scale assessment of how our local courts are handling domestic violence cases based on a large dataset.

Court Watch has successfully advocated 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

Ms. Beavers is a Law Partner at Kleinfeld, Kaplan & Becker, LLP, Washington, D.C. (1986-present).  In addition to chairing Court Watch Montgomery’s Governance Committee, Ms. Beavers monitors criminal domestic violence cases...

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Lillian Agbeyegbe

Board Treasurer

Dr. Agbeyegbe is a Strategic Research Analyst at Polaris, a leading human trafficking organization. She is a public health practitioner with multiple degrees (DrPH, CHES, CPH) in public health, health education, advocacy, and ...

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John Ford

Board President

Mr. Ford is General Manager of NPACT, the national trade organization serving the needs of producers of non-fiction media. NPACT members collectively produce the vast majority of all non-fiction content...

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Mary Silva

Board Member

Mary Silva led Court Watch’s campaign for the first county-funded Safe Passage Center to protect domestic violence victims and their children during court-ordered visitation.

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Judy Whiton

Co-Founder
Board Member

Ms. Whiton, co-founder of Court Watch Montgomery, spent extensive time in Montgomery County courtrooms as a court companion for domestic violence victims. Ms. Whiton now serves as a Leader for Court Watch’s...

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Karin Green 
Board Member

Ms. Green received her law degree from Harvard Law School, where she was the Supreme Court Editor for the Harvard Law Review. Ms. Green also . . .

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Ginna Ingram 
Board Member

A long-time resident of Montgomery County, Ms. Ingram is an Attorney and Certified Fraud Examiner who spent many years investigating white collar crime, regulatory violations and other fraud, waste and abuse issues for a federal agency. She has extensive experience in all phases of an investigation, including leading and shaping its scope, conducting interviews of victims, subjects and witnesses, and crafting fact-based civil, criminal and regulatory resolutions. She routinely worked with prosecutors, other law enforcement professionals and government officials at every level. Ms. Ingram is committed to ensuring that our legal process is fair, just, and grounded in principles of integrity and equality.

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Vivian Levi 
Board Member

Vivian Levi is a licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and the CEO of Rockville Psychotherapy Associates. Prior to moving to her group practice, she was the director of the domestic violence in Montgomery County for 6 years.  Vivian has worked in the past 30 years providing services to families who experience domestic violence. At the shelter she has focused on adapting to a trauma-informed care model of service. Recognizing that everyone at the shelter is a survivor of trauma, she has implemented a trauma informed model by eliminating triggers, providing a safe, stress free, welcoming and supportive environment. She also worked with her clinical team to understand survivor pathology as a form of adaptation to the trauma.
Previously she worked as a supervisor at the Abused Persons Program in Montgomery County for 12 years. Her career started as a clinical coordinator at the Family Crisis Center in Prince George’s County where she worked for 10 years. Since 2001 she has trained a variety of law enforcement officers, social workers and health and human services providers. She attended the American College of Greece as an undergraduate and transferred to the University of Haifa, Israel to earn a combined psychology/sociology degree. She obtained her Masters in counseling psychology at Bowie State University with a concentration in Adlerian and Family Counseling. Vivian has served at the MNADV board for 7 years and has participated in numerous committees such the LAP, Safety Planning and DV Services Standards.
In her private practice she sees a variety of clients focusing primarily on adults and couples and her focus is helping her clients healing from past and present traumatic experiences. Vivian has received Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing training (EMDR) and she is also a trained Mediator assisting parents who are in the process of separation, develop effective parenting agreements.

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Laurie Duker
Co-Founder & Board Member

Ms. Duker has nurtured Court Watch from a tiny all-volunteer organization to a thriving non-profit organization with clout that is increasing access to justice for domestic violence victims across the state and providing a model for communities across the nation. Ms. Duker previously has worked as a Victim Advocate for Montgomery County’s Abused Persons Program, a Conservation Biologist at LakeNet; a Violence Prevention Program Officer at Children’s Safety Network and a Lobbyist for Common Cause. Ms. Duker received her MBA from Yale and MS in Biology from the University of Maryland.

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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.

Larry Rogers, Accountant and Compliance Assistant

Larry Rogers handles Court Watch's accounting and ensures compliance with all state and federal regulations, including the filing of the organization's 990. He advises the Executive Director on a range of issues.

Awards