Relatives of a Maryland murder victim have testified in favor of new legislation
that would permit judges to proceed with psychological evaluations during
protective order proceedings. Those family members testified on behalf
of a woman who was the victim of
domestic violence in September. The victim was reportedly stabbed five times at her home.
The suspect in the case was the father of the woman’s children.
The two girls are now motherless.
Current law requires a person who is seeking domestic violence relief to
file a protective order. Then, if they want to request a psychological
evaluation, they must come back to the courtroom and file for the evaluation
separately. A new bill in the state legislature would change that process,
allowing judges to order such an evaluation during the first proceeding.
Judges would be allowed to order these evaluations if the person displays
symptoms of a mental illness and has also acted in a dangerous way toward
Supporters say that the new proposal would eliminate waiting periods that
cause many victims to change their minds about filing for a protective
order. By removing the requirement to file two documents, the court could
better support victims of domestic violence because judges now have more
options. Mental health advocates, on the other hand, say the law is unfair
because a link has not yet been drawn between mental illness and actual violence.
The offender in this case had a criminal history of abuse, having pleaded
guilty to second-degree assault in a previous case. He was released in
June 2013 after serving six months in federal custody for a parole violation.
Victims of domestic violence should not be inhibited by the courts. Protective
orders should be accessible and effective. Qualified attorneys can provide
victims of physical abuse with more information about protective order options.
Source: Carroll County Times, “Annapolis murder victim’s family
testifies for tougher domestic violence laws” Sara Blumberg, Jan. 16, 2014