get to know the commission
In this section of the eNewsletter, we introduce you to a member of the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence to increase an understanding of the Commission, its members, and its work.
Allen Bailey is a solo practitioner who was appointed to the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence in 2006.
For the past 34 years, Allen has worked with domestic violence victims as either a prosecutor (over 10 years) or family lawyer (over 23 years). His current law practice in Anchorage, Alaska consists primarily of child custody and protective order cases in which he represents domestic violence survivors. Allen is also a liaison to the Commission on Domestic Violence from the ABA Family Law Section, where he is also chair of the Section’s Domestic Violence Committee and vice chair of its Child Custody Committee. He also serves locally as the co-chair of the Law and Legal Subcommittee of the Anchorage Domestic Violence and president-elect of the board of directors of Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis, Inc. Allen’s advocacy on behalf of victims of domestic violence also extends to legislation. In 2002, survivor Paige Hodson and Allen began work on a child custody presumption bill for the Alaska Legislature and it was signed into law on June 29, 2004. The new law established a rebuttable presumption against a court’s placing a child in legal or physical custody of a parent with a history of perpetrating domestic violence.
Allen feels strongly that there is more work to be done to reform how interpersonal violence is handled in the courts, as well as to increase access to the courts for abuse survivors. Allen feels that his expertise has assisted the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence to accomplish its mission of increasing access to justice for victims of domestic violence.
Allen sees the biggest challenges to achieving this mission as two-fold: a lack of adequate federal and state financial support for legal services agencies that provide civil legal services to victims of domestic violence and a lack of adequate education for lawyers, counselors and judges who handle these cases in the dynamics of domestic violence and the effect on children of exposure to such violence in their homes.
It is Allen’s belief that if we want to have less violence in our society, we must increase our efforts to make sure children are not placed in the custody of parents who abuse their partners, since parents are the models for children’s future behaviors. He does recognize that patience is necessary, as it will take generations to change our society as a whole. Allen believes that the first step in this process is educating lawyers, counselors and judges in how important it is to adopt a policy of refusing to place a child in the care of a parent who has abused his or her partner. In order to implement this paradigm, Allen states that we also need massive increases in funding for civil legal services for DV victims from governments at all levels, since that is the only factor that has been shown to reduce re-victimization for individual victims of intimate partner violence.
In that vein, Allen is most proud of the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence’s publications, which he views as vital in educating the bar and bench about domestic violence. He believes these are essential in providing domestic violence victims with an educated legal system that is more responsive to their needs.