Preventing abusive litigation against domestic abuse survivors
Legal Voice helped to draft and pass this law to address domestic violence abusers use of the legal system to further victimize their ex-partners and is consulting with other states seeking to adapt this model that addresses the complex obstacles survivors face in court.
“Some domestic violence survivors say they face abuse in the courts, even long after they’ve severed ties with their partner. A new Washington law, which took effect Jan. 1, seeks to stop what’s known as “abusive litigation.” Catherine West is an attorney with the advocacy group Legal Voice. She said a survivor of domestic violence can be continually dragged into court by an ex-partner, ostensibly to challenge a protection order or child custody agreement. But, West said, the real purpose is often just to get the survivor in the courtroom. “They have to confront their former partner. It’s really a way of continuing to exert control.”
New law targets abusive litigation by domestic violence perpetrators. -National Public Radio
Preventing defendants from introducing prior prostitution arrests and convictions as evidence of consent in a sexual assault prosecution
On May 18, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania confirmed that the state’s rape shield law does not permit defendants to introduce a victim’s sexual history with third parties, including prior acts of prostitution, as a defense tactic attempting to prove consent.
Prior to the ruling, attorneys at the Women’s Law Project partnered with AEquitas to author and file an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on behalf of 26 additional organizations devoted to improving judicial and societal responses to victims and survivors of sexual abuse in this case (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Eric Rogers). The brief argued that Pennsylvania’s Rape Shield Law does not permit the introduction of evidence of a victim’s criminal record for prostitution-related offenses to prove consent.
“Engaging in commercial sex with other persons, whether by choice or not, has no relevance to the veracity of a rape allegation.” – Terry L. Fromson, WLP managing attorney and co-author of the brief
Addressing the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women
Southwest Women’s Law Center is serving on the New Mexico Governors’ Task Force on MMIW, has drafted a position statement on Savanna’s Act and Not Invisible Act, and is training attorneys on federal and state bills addressing violence against indigenous women. Legal Voice has joined allies addressing the MMIW crisis in the Northwest and offered support to leaders in Indian Country in WA State.
Filing amicus brief in Pennsylvania case asserting dating violence is a form of sex-based harassment
Women’s Law Project and Public Justice filed an amicus brief with the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in a Title IX case on schools’ responsibility to address known dating violence. In this tragic case, a student was murdered by her abuser after her university failed to protect her, despite having knowledge that she was a victim of dating violence. All Alliance members signed onto this brief.