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  • Language Access
  • Volume 10 | Spring 2008

commission activities and programming

National Institute on the Integration of Interpreters in Civil Representation of Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking

San Jose, CA
June 5-6, 2008

This two-day Institute is designed to provide attorneys who represent victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking with the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge about providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services to victims who are Limited English Proficient (LEP) and/or Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Priority registration will be given to attorneys currently receiving funding from the Legal Assistance for Victims (LAV) grant program of the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. No more than three attorneys from the same LAV-funded program may register for the Institute without prior approval from the program’s grant manager. Any additional participant slots will be made available to attorneys currently receiving funding from other OVW grant programs that represent victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Non-LAV grantees must obtain prior approval from their grant managers. Remaining spots will be made available to non-OVW funded attorneys currently serving victims and survivors. Registration will close at fifty participants. This Institute is offered at no cost to current OVW-funded attorneys. Participants may use OVW funds to pay for travel costs.

If you have any general questions about this Institute, information updates, and registration information, please visit the Commission’s website. If you are an OVW grantee and you have specific questions about the parameters and terms of your grant or funding, please contact your OVW program manager.

An Application of International Human Rights Principles in U.S. Violence Against Women Litigation

Friday, August 8, 2008 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
666 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York

The Commission will host this training, which is open to all, at the ABA Annual meeting this August.

Thanks to generous one-year funding from the American Bar Association Enterprise Fund, the Commission on Domestic Violence is a part of several collaborative projects with other American Bar Association entities to develop international and domestic resources and leadership for attorneys representing victims of human trafficking, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) victims of domestic violence. 

International human rights legal principles may be used persuasively in domestic cases in U.S. State Courts. This panel, moderated by Judge Pamila Brown, Chair of the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence, will provide examples of effective advocacy on behalf of victims of domestic violence and others using international human rights principles in U.S. courts. Panelists include Jessica Lenahan (formerly Gonzales), a domestic violence survivor from Colorado whose case was brought to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006 which found that she had no federal claim against the police for the death of her three children when local police failed to enforce a restraining order against her estranged husband. Ms. Lenahan’s counsel before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission on Human Rights, Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, will discuss the anticipated decision in her case and its application in U.S. courts.

This program is free. CLE accreditation has been requested for this program. Please RSVP by contacting Robin Runge at

ABA/Avon National Domestic Violence Law Fellowship

The Avon Foundation has awarded a one-year grant to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence to develop a comprehensive, online, searchable directory of programs providing pro bono legal services to victims of domestic violence throughout the U.S. It is the first year that the Commission has received Avon Foundation funding to support its work.

The “ABA/Avon National Domestic Violence Law Fellowship” will support a full-time legal fellow at the Commission to research and compile, for the first time, a comprehensive national database of programs providing pro bono legal services to victims of domestic violence. The online directory will include the types of cases these programs accept – e.g., immigration, housing, protection order, family law – the scope of representation, the frequency and content of trainings for pro bono attorneys and the on-going supervision and/or support provided to pro bono attorneys. This vital directory will also identify gaps in the provision of pro bono legal services, link existing programs to address these gaps, help identify funding and support for additional programs, and identify opportunities for collaboration among pro bono programs to pool their resources.

The Commission is pleased to announce that LaVonne Meyer, a 2008 graduate of Chicago-Kent College of Law, will serve as the ABA/Avon National Domestic Violence Law Fellow, beginning in August 2008. For more information about this project, contact Rebecca Henry at

American Bar Association Hosts LGBT Domestic Violence Summit

In April 2008, The American Bar Association hosted a historic meeting to shape national policy and increase justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) victims of domestic violence in Washington, D.C. Thirty-six national, regional and local organizations, as well as several individuals representing themselves, participated in two days of structured discussion about legal remedies for LGBT victims of domestic violence.

The ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, Commission on Domestic Violence and Criminal Justice Section hosted this invitational summit with funding from the ABA Enterprise Fund. . The goal of the summit was to bring together leaders from the domestic violence, LGBT, criminal justice, legal, judicial, and advocacy communities to identify the most crucial and immediate legal issues LGBT domestic violence victims face and develop an agenda for action based on those issues to inform the ABA’s national training and education project.

The summit participants identified a number of crucial issues to address in order to effectively increase access to justice for LGBT victims of domestic violence. Some of these issues include:

  • Need for culturally-competent and properly trained attorneys representing victims
  • Closeness of LGBT communities which can exacerbate isolation for victims
  • Homophobia and heterosexism in legal culture
  • Gender neutral language in outreach materials and service provider names
  • Barriers to accessing the criminal justice system through law enforcement
  • Need to understand the difference between sexual orientation and gender identify
  • Concerns around proper screening, intake and safety planning

The ABA is currently creating a summary report based on these and other central themes to continue this historical conversation with the many community stakeholders and ABA partners committed to increasing legal services for these populations of victims. For more information about this project, please visit