Delegate Kathleen Dumais

Democrat, Maryland House of Delegates District 15

Dumais wants to continue her focus on family issues

by Melissa A. Chadwick

Staff Writer

During Kathleen M. Dumais’ first term in the House of Delegates she worked on a bill to change the way adults and juveniles are handled in the judicial system if they are ruled incompetent to stand trial.

If re-elected, she plans to continue working on legal issues – tackling the state’s child support statute and domestic violence laws, said Dumais, who is a member of the judiciary committee.

‘‘I think I have been a pretty strong voice on the judiciary committee, and a respected voice,” Dumais said Friday.

On the issue of domestic violence, Dumais is working with a family law focus group that includes attorneys from across the state to lengthen the time for which a spousal protective order can be issued. Currently such orders can be effective for a year with a six-month extension if a judge approves. The focus group wants to make it possible for the orders to be issued for up to two years, she said.

‘‘We feel strongly that it is not too long in some cases,” she said. ‘‘The judges look very closely at each case. There are some cases where two years are really required.”

Dumais is also proud of her work on bills addressing adult and juvenile competency issues in the judicial system.

Previously, adults charged with minor offenses whom were found to be incompetent to stand trial often were sent to mental health institutions with little review, Dumais said. In some instances, the adult spent more time in the institution than he or she would have if sent to jail for the offense, she said.

Now there is a review process to ensure that these individuals don’t get lost in the system.

Kathleen M. Dumais
House of Delegates ,District 15
48, Rockville
Experience: Four-year incumbent; member of the advisory committee for the Jewish Council Against Domestic Abuse; fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers; member of the Board of Citizenship Law-Related Educational Programs.
Top Issues: Family law, juvenile law, juvenile services

A similar bill was passed for the juvenile system.

‘‘There really wasn’t a mechanism in place if the child was incompetent to stand trial,” Dumais said. ‘‘If the judge felt the child was incompetent, all he could do was dismiss the case.”

The new law outlines what the judge can do, what happens, and how to determine if the juvenile is competent, she said.

The past four years in Annapolis were about ‘‘earning the respect of my colleagues, to where I’m looked at, I believe, an expert in family law and someone who can look across the aisle and work with the executive branch,” said Dumais, who was elected in 2002.

Dumais lives in Rockville. She is the oldest of eight and has 17 nieces and nephews. She practices family law with the firm Paley Rothman in Bethesda.

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