2-15-2017. Domestic violence fatality review commission -- confidentiality of meetings and records -- criminal liability for unauthorized disclosure -- report to legislature. (1) There is a domestic violence fatality review commission in the department of justice.
(2) The commission shall:
(a) examine the trends and patterns of domestic violence-related fatalities in Montana;
(b) educate the public, service providers, and policymakers about domestic violence fatalities and strategies for intervention and prevention; and
(c) recommend policies, practices, and services that may encourage collaboration and reduce fatalities due to domestic violence.
(3) The members of the commission, not to exceed 18, are appointed by the attorney general from among the following disciplines:
(a) representatives from state departments that are involved in issues of domestic abuse;
(b) representatives of private organizations that are involved in issues of domestic abuse;
(c) medical and mental health care providers who are involved in issues of domestic abuse;
(d) representatives from law enforcement, the judiciary, and the state bar of Montana;
(e) representatives of Montana Indian tribes;
(f) other concerned citizens; and
(g) a member of the legislature who serves on either the house judiciary committee or the senate judiciary committee.
(4) The members shall serve without compensation by the commission but are entitled to be reimbursed for travel expenses as provided for in 2-18-501 through 2-18-503, and members who are full-time salaried officers or employees of this state or of any political subdivision of this state are entitled to their regular compensation. The provisions of 2-15-122 do not apply to the commission.
(5) The commission shall review closed domestic homicide cases selected by the attorney general to provide the commission with the best opportunity to fulfill its duties under this section.
(6) Upon written request from the commission, a person who possesses information or records that are necessary and relevant to a domestic violence fatality review shall, as soon as practicable, provide the commission with the information and records. A person who provides information or records upon request of the commission is not criminally or civilly liable for providing information or records in compliance with this section.
(7) The meetings and proceedings of the commission are confidential and are exempt from the provisions of Title 2, chapter 3.
(8) The records of the commission are confidential and are exempt from the provisions of Title 2, chapter 6. The records are not subject to subpoena, discovery, or introduction into evidence in a civil or criminal action unless the records are reviewed by a district court judge and ordered to be provided to the person seeking access. The commission shall disclose conclusions and recommendations upon request but may not disclose information, records, or data that are otherwise confidential. The commission may not use the information, records, or data for purposes other than those designated by subsections (2)(a) and (2)(c).
(9) The commission may require any person appearing before it to sign a confidentiality agreement created by the commission in order to maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings. In addition, the commission may enter into agreements with nonprofit organizations and private agencies to obtain otherwise confidential information.
(10) A member of the commission who knowingly uses information obtained pursuant to subsection (6) for a purpose not authorized in subsection (2) or who discloses information in violation of subsection (8) is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $500.
(11) The commission shall report its findings and recommendations in writing to the law and justice interim committee, the attorney general, the governor, and the chief justice of the Montana supreme court prior to each regular legislative session. The report must be made available to the public through the office of the attorney general. The commission may issue data or other information periodically, in addition to the biennial report.
History: En. Sec. 1, Ch. 81, L. 2003; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 28, L. 2013.