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Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking in Civil Protection Order Cases PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking in Civil Protection Order Cases. Presented by: Rebecca Henry, Esq. ABA Commission on Domestic Violence Battered Mothers Custody Conference Albany, NY January 12, 2008.

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Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking in Civil Protection Order Cases

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Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking in Civil Protection Order Cases

Presented by:

Rebecca Henry, Esq.

ABA Commission on Domestic Violence

Battered Mothers Custody Conference

Albany, NY

January 12, 2008


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Learning Objectives for this Workshop

As a result of this workshop,

participants will be better able to:

  • Understand the role and significance of the Standards of Practice for attorneys, advocates and organizations

  • Identify key points of the Standards of Practice to integrate and implement into practice to better serve and advocate for battered women


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Background of Standards of Practice

The American Bar Association adopts

Standards of Practice on various areas of

law to address critical issues, and

set national guidelines and standards

for the legal community


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Background of Standards of Practice

  • Exists on a wide range of topics and targets different audiences, including:

    • ABA Child Custody Pro Bono Project created Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Children in Custody Cases

    • ABA Pro Bono Project created Standards to Create Pro Bono Programs to Persons of Limited Means

    • ABA Standing Committee for Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants created Standards for Providers of Civil Legal Services to the Poor

    • ABA Criminal Justice Section created 19 sets of standards on a range of criminal law issues

    • ABA Commission on Immigration created Standards for the Custody, Placement and Care; Legal Representation; and Adjudication of Unaccompanied Alien Children in the United States

    • ABA Death Penalty Representation Project created Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases


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What are “Standards of Practice”?

  • Black Letter “Rules”

  • Narrative Commentary

  • Are Standards of Practice the same as law?


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How have Standards of Practice been historically used?

  • Used by individual lawyers for guidance

  • Used by pro bono programs and organizations to train lawyers and advocates

  • Cited in case law and briefs as persuasive authority

  • Adopted by local jurisdictions as law


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History of our Standards of Practice

  • Collaborative project with

    • Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs

    • Texas RioGrande Legal Aid

    • National District Attorneys Association’s National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women

    • Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice

  • Steering committee and 3 regional working groups of experts and practitioners

  • Black letter rules adopted by ABA in August 2007


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Goals of our Standards of Practice

(1) To improve the quality of legal representation of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking

(2) To enable lawyers to effectively, ethically, and holistically represent victims in civil protection order cases; and

(3) To raise awareness about the need for high-quality representation for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in civil protection order cases.


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Overview of our Standards of Practice

  • Organized into 2 major sections

    • Ethical duties of ALL lawyers representing domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking victims

    • Procedures

  • Provides specific guidance and best practices about wide range of issues that may arise in civil protection order cases

  • Targeted to discuss specific issues that lawyers may face, but provides good overview of issues for advocates, judges, court personnel, victims and others


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Overview of our Standards of Practice: Ethical Duties

  • Competent Knowledge of Law

  • Competent Knowledge of DV, SA & Stalking

  • Culturally Competent Representation

  • Effective Client Communication

  • Client Safety

  • Scope of Representation


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Overview of our Standards of Practice: Procedures

  • Office Intake

  • Basic Obligations

  • Pre-hearing Responsibilities

  • Hearings

  • Post-Hearing Responsibilities


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How can the Standards help in contested custody cases?

  • Lawyer must be aware of federal and state laws regarding inter-jurisdictional custody issues

  • Lawyer should discuss with the client her wishes concerning custody

  • CPO Remedies may include custody and parental abduction provisions

  • Awareness that fear of losing custody is a significant and realistic motivating factor


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In what other ways do you think these Standards of Practice can be used? How will the Standards be implemented and integrated into your practice or advocacy to help victims of violence?What resources are in place which you can build upon?What challenges and barriers exist, if any?What technical assistance will you need?


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Thank you!

  • For hard copies of the Standards or technical assistance implementing the Standards, email [email protected]

  • The Standards are free for download at the Commission’s website: www.abanet.org/domviol


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