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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Legal Advocacy

Legal advocacy is at the core of NCVLI’s work.  Through impact litigation, we aim to set favorable court rulings interpreting rights to help individual victims and set precedent for future victims.  Two of our most critical efforts in this area are our amicus curiae participation in courts nationwide as well as our legal technical assistance. Through this work it is our hope that in the next 10 years victims are able to secure true participatory status in the criminal justice system.  

Amicus Curiae Participation

NCVLI participates in cases around the country as amicus curiae, which is Latin for “friend of the court.”  Our input explains the national implications of cases to courts and suggests how their decision will impact future victims.  Ultimately, to establish precedent so that tomorrow’s victims do not face the same hurdles as today’s victims, it is critical to secure decisions from the highest courts in each jurisdiction - state and federal.  NCVLI aims to participate as amicus curiae in a minimum of 12 cases per year.

Legal Technical Assistance

To ensure that victim attorneys and advocates everywhere can make the most sophisticated arguments on behalf of victims in every case, NCVLI provides legal technical assistance in the form of research, writing, and strategic advice nationwide. NCVLI’s legal team responded 179 requests for technical assistance this past year from all across the country.  Request technical assistance from NCVLI here.

What Our Partners Are Saying

“If the rights of crime victims are to be vigorously protected and their needs addressed with care and compassion, two things are clear:  Crime victims need lawyers and advocates, and their lawyers and advocates need NCVLI.” 

       -Steve Twist, President, Arizona Voice for Crime Victims

“I have had the blessing of working with NCVLI on a case of first impression.  I could not have gotten to the Court of Appeals or held my own there without the incredible work of NCVLI.  Not only did NCVLI provide research, writing and editing assistance but the team effort and collegial spirit really helped me put forth my very best.  We might as well have been sitting in the same law office.  It felt as though we had worked together for years.” 

       -Bilenda Harris-Ritter, Pro Bono Attorney, California

 “NCVLI has been an indispensable partner in supporting and assisting pro bono victims’ rights attorneys across this country.  Over the years, NCVLI’s staff of brilliant legal minds has provided assistance with cutting edge legal research ”“ often on a moment’s notice ”“ to ensure that when a victim’s right is violated there is a swift and just remedy. Their assistance is invaluable to victims.”

       -Keli Luther, Senior Attorney, Arizona Crime Victims Legal Assistance Project 

“NCVLI has played a critical role in assisting the weakest and most disadvantaged victims.  For instance, when the rights of child victims of sexual or domestic violence were at risk, NCVLI attorneys helped research and craft arguments to protect these children. From the 4-year-old out-of-state victim who was about to be forced to repeatedly travel back to the city where the crime occurred, to the 6-year-old Navajo girl whose very capacity to testify was being challenged because of her cultural background, to a 13-year-old who was told she’d have to sit in a room with her accused rapist during a pretrial interview ”¦ without the involvement of NCVLI these victims might not have prevailed against these injustices.” 

       -Melissa Stephenson, Pro Bono Attorney, New Mexico

These projects are funded in part by Grant #s 2008-DD-BX-K001, 2009-VF-GX-K020, and 2009-SC-B9-0114 awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this document are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.