"Monica's Law" fully enacted by Texas Legislature

AUSTIN — “Monica’s Law,” aimed at preventing domestic violence, passed the Texas House of Representatives and will become Texas law unless vetoed by the governor. The legislation authored by State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) will create an online, searchable and public database listing protective orders issued by Texas courts as a result of domestic violence after a due-process hearing.

Monica Deming, the inspiration behind the legislation, was murdered on November 29, 2015 in an act of domestic violence. Monica, a 32 year-old mother, was shot and killed in her Odessa home by an abusive ex-boyfriend. 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. Together Landgraf and Monica’s family have been fighting for this legislation for more than three years.

“Monica’s Law cannot go back and save Monica’s 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, and it gives law enforcement officers an additional tool to understand threats posed by those with a history of domestic violence,” Landgraf said. “I am proud my colleagues in the legislature agreed with me that having this tool will make a real difference in people's lives.”

Monica’s Law 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 already passed in the Texas Senate. Unless vetoed by the Governor, Monica’s Law would take effect September 1, 2019.