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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Defending Domestic Violence Victims’ Access to Justice

December 12, 2012

Lawyers and advocates around the country are facing a recurring issue - most often in cases involving domestic violence and sexual assault.  Offenders are using civil torts such as malicious prosecution and defamation to sue and recover damages from their victims when the victim reports criminal conduct but the defendant is not convicted. These suits by perpetrators infringe on victims’ rights to access justice and are best recognized as SLAPP suits (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation).  Sadly, because of such suits victims are too often being compelled to endure yet another victimization - this time in the civil justice system.   

One of these cases is currently in the Maryland Court of Appeals.  In this case the daughter of a domestic violence victim called the police to report that the perpetrator was outside her home in violation of a protective order!  Fortunately the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DVLEAP), together with a number of other leading domestic violence organizations, immediately jumped into the case to fight for justice.  NCVLI joined their efforts as amici curiae with the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, Inc., arguing that allowing a malicious prosecution suit against an individual who reports a violation of a protective order eviscerates the right to report crimes, flies in the face of sound public policy, and improperly limits access to justice.  We are awaiting an outcome in this case!

 

Our amicus briefs educate the courts about how their decisions will impact victims and move us a step closer to ensuring that each case fulfills its potential to improve the landscape for future victims by setting positive legal precedent.  Donate today to help us build a better future for victims!