and reduce their reliance on the states they are observing.
Regular courtroom observations conducted by various court watch
groups in Montgomery County, Baltimore County, and Baltimore City have
revealed that an ineffective process for serving abusers with restraining orders after the temporary hearing is causing victims to turn down protections
to which they are entitled. Best practices exist to improve victim safety.
There are several best practices that have been observed by different court
watch programs that could be instituted as a result of the court watch program.
78 The best practices to focus on for this alternative include:
Staggered Exit: A staggered exit strategy is one in which the
abuser’s exit is delayed so that the victim is able to obtain his or
her order and leave the courthouse safely;
Treating parties with courtesy and respect: This courtesy and respect should be shown from all members of the court, including
judges, bailiffs, and clerks;
Warn respondent of criminal charges if order is violated: This
simple statement can encourage respondents to follow the letter
of the order or face the consequences; and
Remind respondent to surrender firearms: When a respondent
surrenders firearms, the chance of a firearm being used against
the petitioner decreases.
When Court Watch groups have suggested these best practices judges
and other members of the judicial system have been receptive to making
changes and creating a uniform and consistent way of handling domestic
violence cases on the docket.
81 Judges can implement these recommendations with relatively no cost to the court system, as it is a matter of changing
courtroom procedure and behavior.
82 These procedural and behavioral
Studies.pdf (explaining that the Santa Fe Domestic Violence Court Watch program was federally funded with a U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women grant
through a New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission state sub-grant).
78. These best practices have been compiled from various sources, including the author’s observations in Baltimore County District Court.
79. See Second Monitoring Report, supra note 72, at 8.
80. See generally Jacquelyn C. Campbell et al., Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive
Relationships: Results From a Multisite Case Control Study, 93 AM. J. OF PUB. HEALTH,
81. See generally Second Monitoring Report, supra note 72. Montgomery Court Watch
has recommended best practices to courts in Montgomery County that have been successfully implemented. These best practices have been developed based on court room observations
conducted by Montgomery Court Watch.
82. Laurie Duker, Making Court Process Safer for Women, BALT. SUN, Nov. 1, 2012,
Editorial, at 21A.