NCVLI Staff Spotlight: Rebecca Khalil
May 02, 2017
Rebecca Khalil joined NCVLI in 2010 as a Staff Attorney. Click here to read Becca’s bio or read on to learn more about Becca in her own words. Click here to read about Bruce, whom she is raising to become a guide dog and who is currently NCVLI’s employee relations specialist.
Why did you first get interested in working with NCVLI and victims’ rights?
I have been interested in the criminal justice system since participating in the mock trial program in high school and volunteering with the Seattle University Prison Program as an undergraduate, and this interest was further solidified while working as a Bailiff and Jury Coordinator between college and law school. During law school, I was fortunate to serve for two years as a student-practice-certified law clerk for the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California in San Jose. But even though I took all of the criminal law and procedure classes I could while at Stanford Law School, victims’ rights were never even mentioned, let alone incorporated as a formal part of the curriculum (I have since learned that this is no longer the case, which is great news!). When I moved back to the Pacific Northwest a few years into my legal career, I came across NCVLI’s web page when researching criminal law careers in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area and uncovered a treasure trove of information about victims’ rights. I couldn’t resist! I read everything available online, and when I saw an opening advertised at NCVLI not too long afterwards, I applied right away – and I haven’t looked back!
What one thing has surprised you or have you learned about victims’ rights?
What surprised me most when I started working in victims’ rights is the disparity in victims’ rights nationally, both in terms of the scope of rights each jurisdiction has chosen to extend to victims and the level of compliance and enforcement that accompanies those rights. Even within a single jurisdiction, the amount of respect for victims’ rights can vary from courthouse to courthouse, and even from courtroom to courtroom. Survivors should be able to trust that they will be treated fairly and with respect, regardless of where a criminal offense has occurred, and no matter which courtroom they enter.
As an organization what is NCVLI’s greatest strength?
NCVLI’s greatest strengths are the breadth of its knowledge and vision and the commitment of its staff. Everyone at NCVLI believes strongly in our mission of improving the justice system for survivors, and we work every day to help make sure that victims, victim advocates, attorneys, and everyone else who is interested in a fair justice system has access to our research and resources to help move that vision toward more widespread implementation, nationwide. We are a small team – and the only team doing this work on a national scale – but we are making a big impact.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy raising and socializing future guide dog puppies for the blind (my family has raised almost 30 puppies over the years) and creating jewelry and art. Creativity and service both in and out of the workplace are important parts of my life!
What would you most like NCVLI or the victims’ rights movement to accomplish in the next five years? Twenty years?
In an ideal world, every victim who comes into contact with the criminal justice system will have access to free, high quality legal representation to assist them with the many legal issues that impact them throughout the justice process. No victim should have to ask “What can I do? Whom can I ask for help? What is going on? Why isn’t anyone listening to me?” when they become involved with the justice system. Interacting with the legal system can be overwhelming, and it is unfair to place this burden on a victim, standing alone, in the aftermath of crime. The current structure of the justice system acknowledges the complexity of the issues that arise by ensuring that prosecutors are responsible for representing the interests of the government and that defense counsel are available to provide assistance to criminal defendants and safeguard their rights; victims who also have rights and interests at stake in criminal proceedings should not be left to “go it alone” in the system. One day, hopefully, no victim will have to.