A new state law gives immediate protection to victims of domestic violence who seek emergency protective orders by eliminating a roadblock many victims faced when they filed for emergency protective orders.
Governor Pat McCrory signed the bipartisan legislation, House Bill 59, on July 31 after passing the General Assembly overwhelmingly.
The roadblock concerned a requirement to orally record hearings for ex parte emergency protection orders, a requirement mandated by a Court of Appeals case (the “Stancill decision”). However, the impact of that ruling required that hearings had to be held in a courtroom where recording devices are available. Not all district courtrooms have recording equipment. After a courtroom is secured, a court clerk is needed to operate the recording equipment and the opening of a courtroom requires a bailiff for security.
These additional requirements often caused delays, some that lasted several hours, thus lessening the effect of emergency protection. These delays were so critical that both judicial and domestic violence victim advocacy groups joined together to press for legislation that eliminated the recording requirement.
“No victim of domestic violence should have to wait for protection,” Governor McCrory said. “I want to thank the Administrative Office of the Courts, the North Carolina Association of District Court Judges (NCADCJ) and the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV), and others for identifying this problem, and helping provide a legislative solution.”
Judge William T. Hamby Jr., President of the NCADCJ, praised the governor’s quick action and support. “This legislation will help us be more flexible and effective in providing prompt assistance to those who are victims of domestic violence,” said Judge Hamby. “We are appreciative of the General Assembly’s efforts and the Governor’s support.”
Dana Mangum, Executive Director of the NCCADV, also praised the collaboration between the General Assembly, Governor McCrory, the judicial branch and advocacy groups.
“The Stancill decision created delays and difficulty for domestic violence victims who rely on our state’s court system for protection,” said Mangum. “The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence was proud to work with the Administrative Office of the Courts to develop a statutory clarification that would eliminate these dangerous roadblocks to lifesaving protective orders. We commend the legislators and staff who worked to move House Bill 59 through the process as quickly as possible, and applaud Governor McCrory for immediately signing this crucial provision into law.”