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National Crime Victim Law Institute

RISE Project Partner Profile: Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence

August 13, 2020

A core aspect of the RISE Project is NCVLI subgranting to six direct service providers to provide legal representation to assist victims in asserting and seeking enforcement of their rights in criminal cases, and, as necessary during and in support of such representation, provide those victims representation on collateral civil legal matters arising from the victimization. Following a competitive selection process, six were selected. Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence is one of them.

What is the mission of your agency and how does the RISE Project fit within that?

Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence (MCEDSV) is Michigan’s catalyst for survivors. Victim representation is critical to that mission because so many survivors report feeling a lack of agency when interacting with the criminal justice system.

When and how did you first start working with NCVLI?

MCEDSV has been aware of the work of NCVLI for some time, and even had the pleasure of having NCVLI Executive Director Meg Garvin provide an inspiring address at our Annual Conference in 2017. Later, when we litigated a case of first impression regarding how litigation abuse interfered with constitutional and crime victim rights, NCVLI provided excellent amicus support. We have consistently relied on NCVLI to keep us updated on developments around the country and therefore to continue dreaming about what rights in Michigan could look like.

Tell us about a recent success/deliverable of your RISE Clinic.

MCEDSV’s RISE Clinic is among the first in Michigan to endeavor to appear on behalf of victims in criminal cases, and accordingly, every action we take is significant and trailblazing. We have recently secured the right to more meaningfully confer for a limited English proficient (LEP) survivor who had not previously been able to express her wishes. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked closely with our clients and prosecutors to limit the identifying information that becomes available through livestreaming court hearings.
What motivates you to do the work that you do with victims’ rights in your community? MCEDSV understands that survivors’ sense of the success or failure in the criminal justice system is not pegged to convictions, but rather their ability to meaningfully participate. We feel this concept can change the world.

Why should other individuals, clinics, and/or organizations get involved with victims’ rights enforcement?

Victims’ rights enforcement is exciting and novel. There is no “way that it is always done” because we are making the road by walking it.

What would you most like for the victims’ rights movement to accomplish in the next five years? How does your work to aid in that accomplishment?

Regular representation of victims. We are just taking the first step towards representation being accepted. We would like to see victims regularly have access to a lawyer—particularly those who have experienced complex, relational crimes such as sexual assault, child abuse, child pornography, domestic violence, and human trafficking.

Why should other individuals, clinics and/or organizations partner with NCVLI?

There is simply no tool more helpful or powerful to this work [than NCVLI].

Learn more about the Rights in Systems Enforced (RISE) Project here.