Crime Victim Litigation Clinic

Students with the Crime Victim Litigation Clinic (CVLC), which is a key project of the National Crime Victim Litigation Institute (NCVLI), work on litigation and policy issues impacting victims of crime all across the country.

Pivoting to Protect Victims’ Rights and Victims’ Voices

Throughout the pandemic, victims’ rights and services have been negatively impacted. Court proceedings have been delayed, and timely notice to victims regarding whether, when, where, and how hearings would be held was lacking. Even as we emerge from one phase of the pandemic, the pressures on the system are not diminishing—the backlog of cases translates to pressure to plead cases, often with little consultation with victims despite their legal right to this consultation.

CVLC students worked alongside NCVLI’s attorneys to address those challenges this past academic year by developing an extensive list of online resources for legal service providers, including templates for responses for various legal proceedings to protect victims’ rights and resources specific to certain populations, such as children and the houseless.

During the pandemic, a key issue has been whether survivor privacy and safety are put at increased risk with the pivot to online hearings. To assess the national landscape, students sat in on remote hearings in nearly a dozen states to gauge what those proceedings might be like for victims and/or their families, particularly if they were trying to remain anonymous. This national research informed policy work done all across the country.

Litigating Through the Pandemic

The pandemic required the CVLC to pivot to new and different advocacy, but some things continued as before—including preparation for litigating core victims’ rights. As part of these efforts, CVLC students drafted pleadings in several states regarding court authority to appoint experts to assist with the calculation of losses in restitution claims. They also helped to vision and draft an amicus curiae brief filed in the Wisconsin Supreme Court regarding a victim’s standing to independently participate in proceedings regarding their confidential and privileged records.

Students working in the CVLC this year received support from one or more of the following scholarships and grants: Dean’s Scholarship and the Discovery Grant.

Improving Criminal Justice

Fall-2021, Improving Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice Reform Clinic

Students in the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic (CJRC) worked on a variety of cases and projects relating to the back end of the criminal justice system in the areas of parole, clemency, forensic science in wrongful convictions, and legal services to incarcerated youth.