Thursday, State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed legislation aimed at preventing domestic violence. “Monica's Law,” as Landgraf has dubbed it, would create an online, searchable and public database listing protective orders issued by Texas courts as a result of domestic violence.
Monica Deming, the inspiration behind the legislation, was murdered in an act of domestic violence. Monica, a 32 year-oldmother, was shot and killed in her Odessa home by an abusive ex-boyfriend on November 29, 2015. Two protective orders for domestic violence had previously been issued against him, but he was easily able to keep them secret.
Landgraf began crafting this legislation after being approached by Monica’s father, Jon Nielsen, a former Odessa police officer. Nielsen pleaded that, had a database been available, he and Monica would have been able to know that her abuser had a history of domestic violence.
Monica’s Law, filed as House Bill 2315, establishes a statewide registry where certain redacted information can be accessed by the public, but also one where law enforcement and the courts have access to all of the information provided by protective-order applicants. Information is only available after due process has been given to the abuser in a judicial proceeding.
“Monica’s Law cannot go back and save her life, or take away her family’s grief, but it can help prevent others from entering into tragically abusive relationships that can lead to physical violence, and worse, death,” Landgraf said. “While we should fight to end domestic and family violence, we should also provide the public the tools to protect themselves and the criminal justice system the ability to protect others.”