HB 744 - Courts – Counsel Appearance Fees – Domestic Violence

Position: Support

Committee: House Judiciary Committee

The Maryland Catholic Conference represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.

House Bill 744 would prohibit a circuit court clerk from collecting docketing fees in domestic violence cases when the petitioner’s counsel files a case.

While $20 is a small fee, this bill helps clear one more hurdle to encourage victims of domestic violence to use legal remedies to seek safety and freedom. For someone fleeing an abusive spouse or partner, the financial burdens add up exponentially and even a small fee in court can add to this burden.

The CDC reports that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced domestic abuse. Catholic Charities serve survivors of domestic violence every day helping them find housing, counseling, and to encounter the healing and security they deserve. The Catholic community also promotes parish-based education and outreach initiatives to help victims of domestic violence in its hundreds of churches.

The Conference supports bills that protect the most vulnerable including survivors of domestic violence. Survivors deserve to feel safe and secure in their own homes as they rebuild their lives. Pope Francis has urged us to restore dignity to “those who are wounded, violated and exposed to every form of exploitation, enslavement, violence and abuse,” and to uproot these evils.

It is for these reasons that the Maryland Catholic Conference respectfully urges a favorable report for HB 744. Thank you for your consideration.