Tuesday, November 25, 2008

DV Headlines

Thanks to a lack of space in my judge's chambers, I work in a cubicle that happens to be situated in the Domestic Violence Assistance office in the Montgomery County (Maryland) Courthouse. From my vantage point next to the receptionist's desk, I see a steady stream of individuals and families coming to seek temporary restraining orders or protective orders against the (mostly) men that are abusing them, their children or their relatives. I also have the chance to hear about cases from the House of Ruth attorneys who work in the cubicle next to mine.

The last couple of days, domestic violence has unfortunately made the headlines. In New Jersey, a woman was killed by her estranged husband, against whom she had a restraining order, at the end of Sunday Church services. Similarly in D.C., a woman was killed by her ex-boyfriend, though she had already taken out a protective order against him and had started planning her own funeral because he had threatened her so many times.

Over the next year or so, the domestic violence assistance office will be combined with other services for DV survivors, so that they can seek medical attention, police intervention, legal advice and counseling all in one place. The events of the past few days demonstrate the unfortunate need for such services and the importance of the work conducted by the attorneys in the cubicles next to me.