NCVLI has several initiatives to ensure that victims' rights are actively enforced.
NCVLI does not directly represent crime victims, but ensures such representation by two avenues.
With grants from the Office for Victims of Crime, NCVLI established and provides legal technical assistance to victim litigation clinics nationwide. These clinics provide free legal services to crime victims in state and federal criminal cases. The Clinic network includes clinics in Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, and Utah. These clinics not only represent individual victims in criminal courts, they work with NCVLI to identify key victims' rights issues ripe for strategic litigation. As of fall 2009 this network of clinics have represented over 1,600 victims in criminal cases, and filed more than 1,160 legal submissions!
The National Alliance of Victims' Rights Attorneys is an association of attorneys committed to the protection, enforcement, and advancement of crime victims' rights nationwide. NCVLI actively recruits attorneys from across the nation who are willing to provide pro bono services to victims and then seeks to pair victims to these attorneys.
Amicus Curiae Participation
NCVLI’s legal team strategically analyzes cases and identifies those that could benefit from participation of an amicus curiae (friend of the court). In these cases NCVLI files briefs, providing the court a national perspective on victim law, and offering the court with the legal framework that will aid advancement of rights.
Representative cases include:
State v. Maouloud Baby
On February 9, 2007, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals held that if a woman consents to penetration and then withdraws that consent, there is no rape, even if force is used to continue the penetration. This holding stands in stark contrast to every other case considering the issue. The second issue on appeal was the proper use of Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) evidence. NCVLI joined the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault as amicus curiae, filing two briefs, one arguing that the court erred with regard to the issue of withdrawal of consent, and the other arguing that the RTS evidence was properly admitted.
People v. Superior Court
Defendant pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter after colliding with a motorcycle, killing the driver and severely injuring the passenger, the driver’s wife. At sentencing, the court heard from the deceased victim’s family, and sentenced defendant to 2 years in prison. Soon thereafter, the court recalled the case for resentencing, indicating that it had reconsidered its ruling, and was inclined to grant probation instead of incarceration. At resentencing, the court refused to allow the victims to speak, and imposed probation. The state petitioned the court of appeals to vacate the resentencing, and to compel the trial court to permit the victims to speak at a new sentencing. The court of appeals denied the writ. The State is seeking review in the California Supreme Court, and NCVLI submitted an amicus letter in support of the petition for review.
NCVLI’s legal team provides legal research and writing on cutting edge victims= rights issues to attorneys and advocates nationwide who are working directly with victims in criminal and civil matters. Providing high quality research, writing, and strategic guidance to these attorneys and advocates helps ensure the thoughtful development and advancement of victim law. If you are an attorney or advocate in need of assistance, you can request more information.
- A California prosecutor sought assistance keeping cameras out of the courtroom in a high profile murder case where prior victims were to testify to defendant’s pattern of behavior.
- An Oregon prosecutor sought assistance answering the question whether a prosecutor has standing to challenge on appeal a subpoena issued for victim’s school records.
- A Colorado attorney sought assistance determining whether a court had the authority to order a victim to waive her counseling privilege in order for the court to determine restitution