Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Profs on VAWA

Professors Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Donna Coker, Julie Goldscheid, Leigh Goodmark, Valli Kalei Kanuha, James Ptacek, and Deborah Weissman have spoken out about the Violence Against Women Act ("VAWA") reauthorization bill:

The VAWA reauthorization bill would extend funding for important services; provide additional
protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; and
would ensure that tribal courts have jurisdiction over domestic violence that occurs on tribal
land. We urge Congress to pass this bill!

But while we applaud much that is in the bill, we are concerned that like its predecessors, the bill
focuses a significant amount of funding on criminal justice responses and much less on economic
and racial justice initiatives that would support efforts to stop domestic violence. We urge
Congress to do more to address economic and racial inequalities that make poor women--
particularly poor women of color, undocumented women, and Native American women, more
vulnerable to intimate violence. We urge Congress to recognize that economic policies that
result in widespread unemployment and downward mobility increase domestic violence. We
further urge Congress to recognize that as important as criminal remedies may be for some
victims, a focus on criminal justice remedies will never be sufficient to empower women. Many
women who experience domestic violence do not want the current limited menu of criminal
justice responses. We urge Congress, therefore, to consider and support programs that explore
alternatives to the current criminal adjudication models, and that address the underlying causes
of abuse.

Download further remarks in PDF here:

Download VAWA


February 28, 2012 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

KS: Decriminalizing Domestic Violence Due to Budget Cuts

From the New York Times:

TOPEKA, Kan. — The startling vote came up at a City Council meeting here on Tuesday, provoked by a run-of-the-mill budget dispute over services that had spun out of control: decriminalize domestic violence.

Three arms of government, all ostensibly representing the same people, have been at an impasse over who should be responsible for — and pay for — prosecuting people accused of misdemeanor cases of domestic violence.


By a vote of 7 to 3, the City Council repealed the local law that makes domestic violence a crime.

The move, the councilors were told, would force District Attorney Chad Taylor to prosecute the cases because they would remain a crime under state law, a conclusion with which he grudgingly agreed. The Council also approved negotiations to resolve the impasse.

Read more here.



October 12, 2011 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Carey: "Correcting Myopia in Domestic Violence Advocacy: Moving Forward in Lawyering and Law School Clinics"

Camille Carey (Univ. of New Mexico School of Law) has posted "Correcting Myopia in Domestic Violence Advocacy: Moving Forward in Lawyering and Law School Clinics" (forthcoming Colum. J. of Gender & Law) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Lawyers and law school clinics have become myopic in their approach to civil domestic violence lawyering. This article argues that domestic violence lawyering should expand beyond its current focus on family law to move domestic violence law and practice forward. Drawing on theoretical frameworks from criminal law and feminist legal theory, this article proposes a lawyering model that expands individual representation across a wide spectrum of case types while also challenging systems that enable battering or do not support victims in their efforts to secure safety.

Holistic representation in family law, public benefits, immigration, housing, mortgage foreclosure, tort, and financial matters, among other substantive areas, better serves domestic violence victims and reveals systemic problems facing victims. By taking a dual approach – broad holistic representation of individual victims combined with law reform efforts directed at systemic issues revealed through broad direct representation – lawyers and law school clinics can move domestic violence advocacy forward.


April 24, 2011 in Domestic Violence, Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Domestic Violence Evidence in IL

An Illinois appellate court recenty held that section 115-7.4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (725 ILCS 5/115-7.4 (West. Supp. 2007)), which allows prior acts of domestic battery to be admissible in a domestic battery trial, does not violate equal protection because it has sufficiently rational bases and offers relevance, probative value, and notice safeguards.  The case is People v. Dabbs, No. 3-08-0709 (Ill. Ct. App. 2010).  Read the opinion here.


May 1, 2010 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 23, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court Case Impacting Domestic Violence

From Law.com:

Advocates for domestic violence victims are sounding the warning about a little-noticed U.S. Supreme Court case that they say could make it much harder for battered women and men to enforce restraining orders against their abusers.

 The case Robertson v. U.S. ex rel. Watson . . . challenges the way restraining orders are enforced in the District of Columbia. D.C. law allows victims themselves to bring criminal contempt charges when abusers infringe on a court order. At least 14 states have similar setups, according to an amicus brief filed by George Washington University Law School's Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project.

Read more about this pending Supreme Court case here.


April 23, 2010 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Maryland Judge Marries Alleged Domestic Violence Perpetrator and Victim

Advocates for abused women reacted with outrage Thursday after learning that a Baltimore County judge had enabled a 29-year-old man to be found not guilty of assault when he officiated at the marriage of the defendant and the woman he was accused of beating.

Another judge who waived the required 48-hour waiting period between the issuance of the marriage license and the wedding ceremony did not know the circumstances, according to that judge and a court official.

"It's appalling," said Lisae C. Jordan, general counsel for the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. "We know to anticipate that behavior from batterers, but to have the judiciary involved in assisting a batterer is just appalling."

Frederick D. Wood had been charged with second-degree assault after his fiancee claimed that on Nov. 29 he hit her in the face, bloodied her nose, kicked her and banged her head against a wall at his home in Middle River.

But when the domestic violence case against him came up for trial on March 10, District Judge G. Darrell Russell Jr. allowed Wood to leave his courtroom in Essex to obtain a marriage license. Before the day was over, Russell married Wood and his fiancee in his chambers. The woman then invoked marital privilege so that she would not be required to testify against her husband, and Russell found Wood not guilty.

"Here's somebody who is clearly injured. And the authority figure, rather than acting neutrally or doing something to help protect her, pushed her into more entanglement with the alleged batterer," said Dorothy Lennig, longtime director of the legal clinic at the House of Ruth, which helps battered women and their children.

Read more here.


March 26, 2010 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Psychological Violence Law in France

France is set to introduce a new offense: psychological violence between married couples or partners living together.  This is an unusual venture into regulating matters within a family.  There is some concern, however, that the law will be abused and turn into a he said/she said debacle.  Nonetheless, the numbers are sobering: almost 3 women die weekly in France after being assaulted by a partner or ex-partner.  Read more here.  For editorials on the subject, see here and here.


January 23, 2010 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Domestic Violence Division Created in Cook County

Some changes are planned in Chicagoland courts for the New Year.  From the Chicago Tribune:

The chief judge of Cook County Circuit Court is creating a domestic violence division to try to improve communication among judges and ensure that abuse victims don't fall through the cracks.

Chief Judge Timothy Evans said he favors other recommendations made by a task force -- such as hiring new judges, strengthening sanctions against offenders and improving the intake of victims who turn to the court system for help. But he said he held off on those reforms until he gets more feedback from key players in the court system.

"There are no easy answers, but I want to make people safer," Evans said Tuesday.

The reforms come nearly a year after the Tribune found that certain victims had been killed by their abusers in spite of seeking legal protection and that less than one-sixth of domestic-violence cases brought each year in Cook County result in convictions.

Under the new domestic violence division to be launched in mid-January, all judges who handle domestic violence-related cases will report to a single presiding judge, Evans said.

Read more here.


January 7, 2010 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Domestic Violence Peaks During Holidays

Unfortunately, the holiday season is not all cheer:

A recent study by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and UC San Diego documented police calls about partner violence, taking note of particular holidays. They found a 22-percent increase on Thanksgiving; a 17-percent increase on Christmas; a 32-percent spike on New Year's Eve; and a 28-percent hike on the Fourth of July, among other holidays.

Read the full article here, and blog commentary here.


December 27, 2009 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Turkheimer: "Forfeiture after Giles: the relevance of 'domestic violence context'"

Deborah Tuerkheimer (DePaul University College of Law) has published "Forfeiture after Giles: the relevance of 'domestic violence context'." 13 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 711-731 (2009).  Here is the abstract from SSRN:

This contribution to Lewis and Clark's symposium issue on California v. Giles contemplates the future of domestic violence prosecution in a period of uncertainty. Giles, the United States Supreme Court’s most recent pronouncement impacting the prosecution of domestic violence, has exposed deep judicial ambivalence about the newly transformed Confrontation Clause. This Article endeavors to guide lower courts in the task of implementation and to chart a course for the evolution of prosecutorial treatment of battering, concluding that Giles represents a significant opportunity for those concerned about the constraints Crawford v. Washington and Davis v. Washington had seemed to place on the prosecution of abuse. For the first time, the Court has identified "the domestic violence context" as a relevant construct, thereby compelling lower courts to grapple with the particularities of violence between intimates. This is a remarkable shift in relatively short order, and it allows us to glimpse the possibility of a jurisprudence informed by the realities of battering.


December 23, 2009 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sedillo Lopez: "A Medical/Legal Teaching and Assessment Collaboration on Domestic Violence: Assessment Using Standardized Patients/Standardized Clients"

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (University of New Mexico School of Law) has posted A Medical/Legal Teaching and Assessment Collaboration on Domestic Violence: Assessment Using Standardized Patients/Standardized Clients, 14 International Journal of Clinical Legal Education 61 (2009), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

The article describes a collaboration between a law professor, emergency medicine professors from the medical school, formative assessment specialists, standardized patient training specialists, a community attorney who specializes in domestic violence, and a teaching assistant from the law school.

The group collaborated in developing scripts and scenarios for standardized patients and standardized clients who experienced the medical and legal problems related to domestic violence. They developed assessment criteria and used the standardized patients and clients as part of a Family Law class and the training for emergency room residents. This type of training and assessment is common in medical school training but unique in legal education.


November 9, 2009 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dwindling Funds for Ohio Domestic Violence Attorneys

An Ohio newspaper article reports that the state will more than halve repayment rates for attorneys who work on domestic abuse cases from $150 to $60 an hour for court work and $30 an hour for travel.  In 2008, Ohio had paid $1.32 million to lawyers, and nearly half went to a handful attorneys or law firms.  A local advocate is quoted expressing concern for domestic violence victims as a result of these cuts, many of whom seek protection orders from the courts, but as state coffers continue to lighten, we might see more cost cutting.  



October 22, 2009 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Protective order in Rhianna v. Chris Brown

For those of you who like to incorporate celebrity family law disputes in your teaching, a copy of the actual restraining order issued against Chris Brown can be found at http://www.etonline.com/documents/et_cbrown_minuteandprotectiveorder_090306.pdf


March 6, 2009 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Domestic Violence and the Family Pet

A Bill introduced in the state of Washington, HB 1148, would protect animals from domestic violence. The introduction to the Bill states:

The legislature finds that considerable research shows a strong correlation between animal abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence.  The legislature intends that perpetrators of domestic violence not be allowed to further terrorize and manipulate their victims, or the children of their victims, by using the threat of violence toward pets.


February 25, 2009 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Case Update -- NY Courts Define "Intimate Relationship"

Pursuant to the New York State Family Court Act, domestic violence civil protection orders are available to "members of the same family or household," including those "who are or have been in an intimate relationship."

Two recent New York state trial court cases have applied the "intimate relationship" language.  In R.M.W. v.G.M.M, the court found that two women who bore children fathered by the same man have an "intimate relationship" for purposes of this statute.  In K.J. v. K.K., the court found that a woman has an "intimate relationship" with her biological daughter, even though the woman had relinquished the girl for adoption eight years earlier.

(MIF 02-12-2009)

February 12, 2009 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rural Domestic Violence

Sbenson Professor Sara Benson, fellow LawProf blogger, and currently visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, has posted to SSRN a draft of her article: "Failure to Arrest: A Pilot Study of Police Response to Domestic Violence in Rural Illinois."  The article is explores the issue through focus-groups of survivors.  Professor Benson notes  that "it is important to consider law enforcement response to domestic violence calls because police officers often serve as the gateway to the legal community through first-response action."  The article "points out the disparity between law and action in rural Illinois as detailed by the survivor narratives."  The article then proposes a method of strengthening police responses to domestic violence calls in rural areas. bgf

Continue reading

February 9, 2009 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Legislation update -- New York considers bill to protect children from "failure to protect" charges

In response to U.S. District Judge Weinstein's findings in Nicholson v. Williams, 203 F.Supp.2d 153 (E.D.N.Y. 2002), the New York State legislature will consider Bill A01440, designed to "prevent further trauma to a child whose custodial parent is a victim of domestic violence [by] establish[ing] a presumption of fitness on the part of the battered custodial parent to prevent the unnecessary removal of the child from the battered parent."

According to the "memo" describing Bill A01440, "Many child psychologists agree that the removal of children from their abused mothers actually harms children, who according to the Nicholson decision, 'are particularly sensitive to being separated from the non-abusive parent.' Often these children blame themselves for their placement into foster care. By establishing a presumption in favor of the battered parent, this legislation seeks to prevent routine and unnecessary removals of children from their custodial parent."

Bill A01440 has been referred to the New York State Assembly Children and Families Committee.

(MIF 01-30-2009)

January 30, 2009 in Child Abuse, Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Conference Announcement: New Approaches to Domestic Violence

The Journal of Legal Commentary of St. John's University School of Law will present its 16th Annual Symposium on Friday March 20, 2009 with the theme "Thinking Outside the Box:  New Challenges
and New Approaches to Domestic Violence."  Speakers include Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Sarah M. Buel,
Donna Coker, Cheryl Hanna, Donna Lee,Holly Maguigan, Kristian Miccio, Emily J. Sack, Elizabeth Schneider, Deborah Tuerkheimer and Joan Zorza.

For more information please contact Karyn DiDominici didomink@stjohns.edu
or (718) 990-1950.


November 14, 2008 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

News: Domestic Violence and Asylum

A press release from the  CENTER FOR GENDER & REFUGEE STUDIES at UC-Hastings College of Law entitled " New Ruling by Attorney General Mukasey May Endanger Rights of Women Asylum Seekers."

In a move that could change the course of protection of women asylum seekers across the country, Attorney General Michael Mukasey certified the case of Guatemalan asylum seeker, Matter of R-A- , to himself, overruling the decisions of two prior Attorneys General, Janet Reno and John Ashcroft.

The case involves the claim for asylum of Rodi Alvarado, who fled Guatemala after suffering more than a decade of brutal domestic violence in a situation where neither the police nor the courts responded to her pleas for protection.

According to Professor Karen Musalo, Ms. Alvarado’s attorney and director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at U.C. Hastings, the case has been on hold since 2001. “Though we are glad to see some movement in the case, I am worried that that the current Attorney General is less sympathetic than his predecessors to the protection of women asylum seekers who flee brutal forms of persecution in countries where their governments will not protect them.”

Musalo explained that domestic violence is recognized as a legitimate basis for refugee protection by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as well as by countries around the world – including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand; however its acceptance in the U.S. has been controversial.

Matter of R-A- has a convoluted legal history. In 1996 Ms. Alvarado was granted asylum by an immigration judge in San Francisco. In 1999 the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the highest immigration tribunal in the country, reversed her grant of asylum and ordered her back to Guatemala. This decision mobilized thousands of women’s rights advocates, who successfully persuaded then Attorney General Reno to intervene. In response, A.G. Reno vacated the BIA’s decision in January 2001, and ordered the BIA to reconsider the case once regulations the Justice Department had proposed in 2000 were finalized.

In 2004 Attorney General John Ashcroft took jurisdiction over the case, and ordered lawyers for Ms. Alvarado and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to brief the case. Though the DHS itself recommended that Ms. Alvarado be granted asylum, without explanation, Attorney General Ashcroft did not rule on the case but sent it back to the BIA with the same order that his predecessor Janet Reno had – that the BIA reconsider the case once the regulations proposed in 2000 were issued as final. To this date, the proposed regulations have not been issued in final form.

In a surprise move on September 25, Attorney General Mukasey certified Matter of R-A- to himself, and issued a decision ordering the BIA to reconsider it, removing the requirement that the BIA await the issuance of proposed regulations. This means that the BIA can immediately begin to consider this decision, as well as many others that had been on hold waiting a BIA decision in Matter of R-A-.

Professor Musalo expressed concern about the Attorney General’s decision to eliminate the requirement that Matter of R-A- be decided under the authority of the proposed – but not yet finalized – regulations. “The proposed regulations were generally seen as a positive legal development, which recognized claims such as Ms. Alvarado’s,” Musalo explained.

The release is available  here as a pdf.

RR (Thanks to Nate Treadwell for this lead).


October 7, 2008 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Call for Papers

Writing on Domestic Violence?  Juvenile Justice?  Sex Offenses?  Focused on NYC? 

New York City Law Review: A Call for Papers
The Legal System’s Response to Violence in New York City

The New York City Law Review -- a student-run law journal based out of the City University of New York School of Law – is currently seeking papers for our Spring 2009 symposium on the legal system’s response to violent behavior.  With a particular emphasis on violent behavior within New York City, we will critically explore the increase in criminalization, mandatory arrests, and zero tolerance policies through four panels on the areas of domestic violence, sex offenses, juvenile justice, and police brutality.  We will be highlighting progressive legal responses within the present legal system, as well as ideas for new responses both within and without the legal framework.

The symposium will take place on February 13, 2009 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. 

If you are interested in submitting a paper, please email
by November 1, 2008 with your name, school or organizational affiliation, and an abstract of no more than 250 words describing your article.  Selected authors may be invited to serve as panelists at the symposium.  Selected articles will be published in the spring of 2009.  All completed articles must be submitted by January 1, 2009.

(RR September 29, 2008)

September 29, 2008 in Child Abuse, Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)