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Washington Letter December 2014


Featured Articles

Domestic & Sexual Violence

ABA Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence, VAWA celebrate 20 years

The ABA Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence (CDSV), which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of enactment of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), commemorated the occasion Nov. 19 with a reception in Washington, D.C. ABA President William C. Hubbard, addressing a group of approximately 100 attendees, said that “the Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence has been the voice of the legal profession on the critical issues of protecting victims and their families for 20 years, and we plan to continue this essential work for years to come.”

Federal Government

Senate clears IOLTA bill for president

During the final days of the 113th Congress, the Senate cleared ABA-supported legislation for the president that assures that IOLTA accounts set up at credit unions receive the same level of federal insurance protection that banks provide ($250,000 per person per institution). The legislation was needed because the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has not provided insurance coverage if the funds are held on behalf of a client who is not a federally insured credit union member.


ProBAR celebrates 25 years of pro bono legal assistance

The South Texas Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) − established in 1989 by the ABA, the State Bar of Texas and the American Immigration Lawyers Association as thousands of adults and families from war-torn counties in Central America were detained at the border − last month commemorated 25 years of providing legal assistance through pro bono representation. The project, overseen by ABA Commission on Immigration staff in the association’s DC office, began with one attorney and a paralegal and has grown to nearly 40 staff members in two offices in Harlingen, Texas. The offices focus on providing “Know Your Rights” presentations, legal screening services and pro bono representation to adults and unaccompanied children in detention throughout the Rio Grande Valley.


DOJ announces new guidance expanding bar on profiling

U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced a new guidance Dec. 8 for federal law enforcement agencies that expands a 2003 policy barring racial and ethnic profiling to include national origin, gender, gender identity, religion and sexual orientation. The new policy applies a uniform standard to all law enforcement, national security and intelligence activities conducted by Justice Department law enforcement components and state and local law enforcement law officers participating in federal law enforcement task forces.

Federal Government

House panel revives debate over cameras in courts courts; ABA supports continued experimentation

The issue of cameras in the courtroom received renewed attention this month as the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet held a hearing Dec. 3 on H.R. 917, the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act. The bill, introduced last year by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), would permit the presiding judge of a federal district or appellate court (including the Supreme Court) to authorize electronic media coverage of both criminal and civil proceedings in accordance with mandatory guidelines promulgated by the Judicial Conference of the United States. The ABA sent a letter Dec. 9 for the record of the hearing, commending the committee for continuing to focus public attention on this issue and expressing support for the objectives of the legislation.