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More Maryland judges may help victims of domestic violence

Maryland domestic violence lawyers and others may be excited to hear that the Maryland General Assembly has approved legislation that will allow for the appointment of additional judges in several local courts around the state.

One practical challenge that presents Ann Arundel County domestic violence lawyers in getting protective orders is overcrowded court dockets. In at least one Maryland county courts are having to stay open past the usual closing time just to get through their daily schedules. It is a difficult balance for any court to strike when faced with both a scheduled docket along with the emergency nature of most domestic violence filings.

With the new judges, courts can assign one judge on a full time rotational basis to handle emergency matters only. This is good news for the courts because the other judges can attend to their ordinary matters within the business hours of the court; it is good for victims of domestic violence because there will be one judge with the time to devote to each domestic violence case. A real feeling of hopelessness can affect any litigant, especially a domestic violence victim, when he or she gets the impression that a judge simply does not have the time to listen.

Across the state, the measure will create nine new judges at the trial court level and two new appellate judges. While it will cost $3.1 million when all is said and done, that may be public money well spent.

There have been other positive developments in Maryland domestic violence law lately as well, some of which we have been following. One pending measure, if passed, will enhance penalties imposed on those who commit acts of domestic violence in front of children. Another measure will allow women and men to obtain domestic violence protective orders even if they are not married to their partners and have no children in common with them.

Source: Gazette.net, "Frederick County to get new circuit court judge," Ryan Marshall, April 19, 2013.

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