As part of domestic violence awareness and prevention day at the State House Thursday, Governor Paul R. LePage announced details of an executive order establishing a new task force to address domestic violence in our State. The task force will review existing laws and practices to ensure that court issued protection from abuse orders are effective in protecting victims of domestic abuse and violence. As the State seeks to end domestic violence, the goal of the task force is to recommend ways to improve enforcement of court orders and will focus on ways to enforce existing laws.
"The Constitutions of Maine and the United States are clear that people have the right to keep and bear arms," said Governor LePage. "My order will review ways to ensure that existing laws and court orders are enforced effectively to keep weapons away from domestic abusers."
The Governor signed the order just one day after he reiterated his continued commitment to end domestic violence in his 2013 State of the State Address. His impassioned call to collaborative action -- born from his own experience as a child victim of family violence -- drew a standing ovation from the joint session.
"I am not interested in more laws that infringe upon the ability of law abiding citizens to own guns," the Governor added.
Given the importance of this initiative, Colonel Robert Williams, Chief of the Maine State Police, will serve as chair. The remaining eight members of the task force will be appointed by the Governor and include representatives from the following groups: sheriffs, chiefs of police, prosecutors, family law attorneys, domestic violence prevention nonprofits, firearms owners, sportsmen and defense attorneys.
Governor LePage has asked that the group quickly get to work and present him their findings,by July 31, at which time the task force would dissolve.
The task force is just the latest effort led by the Governor on his signature issue. In addition to raising statewide awareness about these horrific crimes, Governor LePage has worked to amend Maine's bail code to ensure judges determine bail for domestic violence offenses and expanded financial resources for victims and their families by requiring abusers to pay in the the Victim's Compensation Fund.
The language of the executive order is as follows:
AN ORDER ESTABLISHING THE COURT ORDER ENFORCEMENT TASK FORCE
WHEREAS, Maine courts have the authority to issue certain orders in specific cases where an individual's safety is threatened;
WHEREAS, sworn law enforcement is charged with enforcing the terms of court orders, including protection from abuse orders; and
WHEREAS, a review of laws and practices is necessary to ensure that orders are adequately enforced as the State seeks to end domestic violence;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Paul R. LePage, Governor of the State of Maine, hereby order as follows:
The Court Order Enforcement Task Force ("Task Force") is hereby established.
The membership of the Task Force shall consist of nine (9) persons appointed by the Governor, including representatives of the following groups:
a. Department of Public Safety; b. Sheriffs; c. Chiefs of Police; d. Prosecutors; e. Defense Attorneys; f. Attorneys who practice family law; g. Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence; h. Firearms Owners; and i. Sportsmen
The Task Force shall:
a. Review the constitutional provisions and existing laws governing the issuance and execution of court orders in response to domestic violence complaints; b. Determine best practices currently undertaken by law enforcement to enforce the terms and conditions of court orders; c. Review domestic violence homicide cases in which court orders had been issued and violated; and d. Examine the practices of other states and jurisdictions to determine alternate means to enforce court orders issued pursuant to existing laws.
The Task Force shall undertake such other duties and responsibilities from time to time as may be required.
The Task Force shall submit a report to the Governor detailing their findings on or before July 31, 2013, at which time the Task Force shall dissolve.
The effective date of this Executive Order is February 6, 2013.
Paul R. LePage, Governor