Judiciary Creates Statewide Civil Domestic Violence Database
(Annapolis, MD. — Nov. 7, 2008) The Maryland Judiciary has launched a statewide database that will provide faster access to protective and peace orders issued anywhere in the state to better protect victims of domestic violence, ensure officer safety, and improve the courts’ ability to respond to these cases.
The real-time Web accessible database includes all protective and peace orders issued by Maryland District and Circuit Court judges and District Court commissioners. With this launch, Maryland becomes one of the first states with a comprehensive database of civil orders of protection.
Maryland’s law enforcement agencies are now provided with real-time secure Web-based access to images or PDF copies of District and Circuit Court protective and peace orders. “Law enforcement officers are able to verify the existence and content of an order at any time, even on-site when they respond to domestic violence calls, and thus will be able to make immediate arrests when violations occur,” said Chief Judge Robert M. Bell of the Maryland Court of Appeals.
Court personnel can perform quick, comprehensive searches, which improves communication and eliminates conflicting or simultaneous orders between District and Circuit Courts that share concurrent jurisdiction over domestic violence cases.
“This new database will also improve the courts’ ability to review, coordinate, and adjudicate domestic violence cases across the state,” Judge Bell said.
The domestic violence central repository also permits authorized users to produce reports on protective and peace orders, providing valuable information about domestic violence in Maryland. Reports created from this data will be available via the Judiciary Web site, www.mdcourts.gov.
“This database also improves Maryland’s ability to implement the full faith and credit provisions of the Violence Against Women Act,” Judge Bell said. “This is a part of the Judiciary’s continuing efforts to ensure victim and officer safety, such as Project Passport, which was implemented last January to standardize protective orders by issuing and enforcing a new uniform first page for these orders.”
Two years ago, the Judiciary’s Department of Family Administration was awarded a grant by the Office of Violence Against Women to complete a statewide database. The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and its collaborative partner, the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, coordinated an advisory committee and held six regional focus groups with stakeholders to discuss and consider recommendations on policies, procedures, and uses for the database. The grant enabled the AOC’s Judicial Information Systems Department to complete the design and development of the database.
Eventually, the database will interface with the Maryland State Police System, which inputs Maryland data into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.
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