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  • Failure to Protect
  • Volume 12 | Fall 2008

from the chair

The Honorable Pamila Brown

Dear Colleagues,

I am truly excited to bring you this issue of our eNewsletter, featuring articles from experts on the intersection of domestic violence and child protection.  Lawyers who spend any time representing victims of domestic violence in family matters understand that allegations of child abuse and neglect are frequently intertwined with allegations of intimate partner violence—sometimes to the great detriment of victims and their children.  A coordinated and well-informed response from lawyers, state officials, judges and clients is required, but is often not effectively achieved.  We hope that this eNewsletter will encourage you to consider how you might reach out to child advocates, social workers and judges in your community to provide a more holistic response to adult and child victims of family violence.

Many of you may be familiar with the landmark New York case of Nicholson v. Scopetta, in which New York courts found that the state’s practice of removing children from their battered parent on “failure to protect” grounds was unconstitutional.  We are very fortunate in this edition of our eNewsletter to have two of the litigators of that case provide insights for us here.  First, David Lansner gives us an overview of the Nicholson litigation, and offers suggestions for replicating its results in other jurisdictions. Then, Joanne Sirotkin and Christine Fecko, legal services lawyers in New York state, offer their perspective on how best to apply the Nicholson holding to domestic violence cases they handle every day.

Finally, we are pleased to have some of the primary authors of “the Greenbook”—a set of best practice guidelines published as Effective Intervention in Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment: Guidelines for Policy and Practice—co-author a piece describing the recent findings of the Greenbook Initiative, and offering practice-based suggestions for collaboration between domestic violence and child protective advocates.

As always, the Commission welcomes information from you regarding resources or promising practices on this critical area of domestic violence practice.  Our heartfelt thanks to all of you for your work on behalf of survivors.

The Honorable Pamila Brown
Chair, ABA Commission on Domestic Violence