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National Crime Victim Law Institute

RISE Clinics Respond to COVID-19

August 10, 2020

We spoke with Victims’ Rights Clinics involved in our Rights in Systems Enforced (RISE) Project about how they are protecting victims’ rights during COVID-19. Here are a few of their stories.

Right to Privacy: Just after a statewide stay-home order was issued, the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence’s Survivor Law Clinic (Michigan Clinic) represented two victims as they navigated virtual hearings in the criminal cases against their offenders. The Michigan Clinic worked to ensure that the victims’ privacy was guarded to the greatest extent possible in this new platform. NCVLI and the Michigan Clinic also joined forces to encourage all courts in Michigan to actively consider victims’ rights if they adopt virtual proceedings.

Right to be Present; Right to Dignity, Fairness, and Respect: Despite COVID-19, the defense filed a motion requesting an in-person hearing in a homicide case. The co-victim/survivors, who were the elderly family of the deceased, objected to the in-person hearing due to health and safety concerns. Arizona Voice for Crime Victims (Arizona Clinic) objected based on victims’ rights, including the rights to be treated with fairness, respect, and dignity; to be free from intimidation, harassment or abuse; and to be present at all criminal proceedings. The court denied the request for an in-person hearing, a success for the co-victims.

Right to Reasonable Protection: In a case involving child abuse and murder, the defense sought to modify defendant’s c because of COVID-19. The Arizona Clinic objected on behalf of the victim, citing victims’ rights and noting the jail’s protocols to handle the virus

In a case involving sexual assault of a minor, the Defendant filed a Motion to Modify Conditions of Release arguing he should be released due to COVID-19. AVCV filed an objection on behalf of the victim opposing his release, along with the State filing a response, and attended an oral argument. The Court denied the Defendant’s Motion to Modify and he remained in custody.

These are just a few of the stories from the field; learn more about our RISE Clinics here.