best practices during peace and protective order hearings.
72 When there is
inconsistency from court to court and even within judges at the same court,
victims are left wondering how effective their order will be, and if it is
enough to keep them safe. Judges should advise abusers of their responsibilities under the order—such as the surrendering of firearms for the duration of the order—and allow both parties to ask questions about the process.
73 Judges should be conscious of their demeanor by being good-natured, supportive and informative toward all parties because this increases
the likelihood that a victim will return to court and cooperate with authorities in future cases.
74 Using these approaches can help the victims feel secure in their choice to pursue a protective order, and feel safe during the
process. Court watch programs are a way to monitor judicial behavior and
report on its consistency in these cases.
IV. USING COURT WATCH PROGRAMS TO IMPROVE THE COURT PROCESS
The problems that victims of domestic violence face in Maryland can be
ameliorated by increasing oversight and consistency of the judicial system
through wider use of court watch programs. Court watch programs create a
more transparent system in domestic violence court cases and collect data
through court monitoring to ensure the judicial process is fair to victims and
prioritizes their safety.
75 Often relying on federal funds, after completing
systematic observations of the court proceedings, monitoring organizations
provide objective data to the court and general public that can be used to
76 Court watch programs are often sanctioned and feder-
ally funded through a grant process,
77 serving to ensure their availability
72. Laurie Duker & Judith Wilson, Court Watch Montgomery, Just “ A Piece of Paper?” Domestic Violence Peace and Protective Orders in Montgomery County District
Courts Second Monitoring Report
59 (2012) [hereinafter Second Monitoring Report],
73. See id. at 25-26, 36.
74. Id. at 11, 28.
D. C. Survivors & Advocates For Empowerment, 2012 Report: DC Domestic
Violence Court Watch Project
3 (2012), http://courtwatchdc.files.wordpress.com/2013/
08/2012courtwatchreport.pdf (describing the mission of the District of Columbia Domestic
Violence Watch Project).
76. See Second Monitoring Report, supra note 72 (describing how the data in the report
is collected and compiled). The report identifies best practices and exemplary actions by
judges and court personnel and patterns within the system that may be helping or hurting the
victim, creates a dialogue between the court and the public regarding the way the court handles domestic violence and propose solutions to improve and make consistent court responses to these cases. See id.
77. See Santa Fe Coordinated Cmty. Response Council, Santa Fe Domestic Violence
Court Watch Final Report 1 (Aug. 2011), http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q