Comprehensive Tool for Lawyers in Spotting Domestic & Sexual Violence Released by the American Bar Association
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 27, 2008 – The American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence has released “Comprehensive Issue Spotting: A Tool for Civil Attorneys Representing Victims of Domestic and Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking,” a client-centered resource to help lawyers new to representing victims of these crimes provide knowledgeable assistance to their clients.
In the U.S., access to legal services is identified as one of the most effective tools for the estimated 1.5 million victims of these crimes each year. “Comprehensive Issue Spotting” will enable lawyers to identify and become familiar with the wide-range of legal issues facing victims, and provide well-informed legal advice and referrals.
The guide takes a two-pronged approach in addressing such critical areas as protection orders, child custody, immigration, employment and housing. First, it provides a list of questions that lawyers can use to gather information from their clients. For example, with respect to criminal matters, “Did the client report the violence to law enforcement?” and relative to immigration issues, “What is the immigration status of the offender?” The second part of the guide identifies the type of help that victims need and asks lawyers to research and list the local resources for their clients. In criminal matters, that may be having the name of the local victim services contact at the prosecutor’s office; and as to immigration — “What is the local community-based immigration agency?”
“Too often, a victim of a domestic violence situation or stalking is treated for one part of the problem, without real acknowledgement and understanding of all of the issues surrounding the abuse. This comprehensive issue-spotting tool will help lawyers respond to victims holistically, and will help ensure that lawyers have information about additional resources to help victims become safe,” said Judge Pamila Brown, chair of the commission.
The ABA Commission on Domestic Violence developed the tool in partnership with the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women, National District Attorneys Association and the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice.
Copies of the tool are available electronically via download from the commission’s Web site at http://www.abanet.org/domviol/pdfs/Issue_Spotting_FINAL.pdf.
Founded in 1994, the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence has a mission to increase access to justice and safety for victims of domestic violence by mobilizing the legal profession.
With more than 413,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.