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Securing Rights for Victims

Securing Rights for Victims: A Process Evaluation of the National Crime Victim Law Institute's Victims' Rights Clinics

Robert C. Davis
James M. Anderson
Julie Whitman
Susan Howley
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 136
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  • Book Info
    Securing Rights for Victims
    Book Description:

    This book discusses how some clinics have won significant gains at the appellate and federal court levels concerning victim standing, the rights to be consulted and heard, and the right to privacy. Some have won significant victories in gaining standing for victims and expanding the definition of particular rights. Others are enjoined in the battle. But all have raised awareness of victims' rights in the justice system.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4943-8
    Subjects: Law, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xxii)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    This monograph describes a process evaluation conducted by the RAND Corporation and National Center for Victims of Crime of the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) state and federal victims’ rights clinics. The clinics were conceived as a response to the fact that, in spite of burgeoning victims’ rights legislation in all states, many victims still are not receiving the rights to which they are entitled under law. The NCVLI clinics were intended to promote awareness, education, and enforcement of crime victims’ rights in the criminal-justice system.

    The National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) evaluation plan proposed a two-part effort: a...

  9. CHAPTER TWO The Development of Crime Victims’ Rights in the United States
    (pp. 9-14)

    Legal rights for crime victims have been developed and expanded in the past three decades. These rights have transformed the relationship between the crime victim and the criminal-justice system, as victims gained the rights to be informed, present, and heard during the criminal- and juvenile-justice processes. This change has been driven largely by crime victims and survivors, with the support of advocacy organizations, leaders within the criminal-justice field, and policymakers.

    The adoption of victims’ rights accelerated in the early 1980s following the release of the final report of President Ronald Reagan’s Task Force on Victims of Crime (1982). That task...

  10. CHAPTER THREE National Crime Victim Law Institute and Clinic Goals
    (pp. 15-22)

    NCVLI was established in 2000 in an effort to promote the enforcement of victims’ rights as well as awareness and education in the area of crime victims’ rights. According to its Web site, NCVLI was conceived as “a national resource for crime victim lawyers and victims to support the assertion and enforcement of victims’ rights in criminal and civil processes” (NCVLI, undated [a]). Its mission is to promote balance and fairness in the justice system through crime victim–centered legal advocacy, education, and resource sharing. To achieve its mission, NCVLI seeks to do the following:

    Promote victims’ rights, including those...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Victims’ Rights Developments in Clinic States
    (pp. 23-32)

    Each of the eight clinic states has a long history of support for crime victims’ rights. All have protected the rights of victims through amendments to their state constitutions and have adopted statutory victims’ bills of rights. Some have worked steadily to expand victims’ rights laws beyond the amendments and bills of rights, incorporating victims’ rights wherever appropriate throughout their criminal procedure and corrections codes, in their court rules of criminal procedure and evidence, and in their administrative codes. Arizona, Maryland, and Utah provide the best examples of this evolution in victims’ rights.

    Certain developments in victims’ rights in the...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Clinic Operations
    (pp. 33-42)

    The NCVLI clinics work to promote observance of victims’ rights by representing victims in individual cases and by working to change the legal culture through example, training, and appellate decisions and court rules that acknowledge victims’ rights. When they become aware of a potential rights violation, the first step may be to place a call to a criminal-justice official to see whether the condition can be easily remedied. For example, they may try to convince police to file a case with the court or to convince a prosecutor to advance a trial date. Or they may ask a prosecutor to...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Outreach and Sources of Clients
    (pp. 43-52)

    In this chapter, we discuss variations between clinics in recruitment methods and implications for referral sources, number of cases and types of cases represented, and types of victims’ rights issues with which they deal. To its credit, NCVLI has not insisted on a single model for the state clinics. As discussed in Chapter Five, there are substantial variations in business models adopted by the clinics and in their use of pro bono attorneys and student help. As this chapter shows, there also are significant differences in recruitment and caseloads. The freedom that the clinics have in developing different methods allows...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Clinic Work in Trial Courts
    (pp. 53-62)

    Trial-court advocacy is at the heart of the clinics’ work on behalf of victims. Although the general outlines of this advocacy are the same in each clinic, there are some differences among them based both on the laws and legal culture of the states in which they operate and on the differing approaches of the clinic directors. In general, the clinics receive a call from a victim, conduct some type of intake screening, open a case, and then proceed—according to the victim’s needs in the case—to do one or several of the following: contact the prosecutor, file a...

  15. CHAPTER EIGHT Clinic Work at the Appellate Level
    (pp. 63-72)

    When the clinics are successful at the trial level, there is no opportunity to bring cases up on appeal and establish precedential case law. In this way, appellate practice is often a judgment call related to service to the individual victim: The clinic must decide whether to push an issue that it is likely to loseso thatit can appeal or whether it should not push the issue to spare the victim going through the appellate process, especially where the potential benefit to that particular victim may be minimal. Conversely, there may be issues that specific victims want to...

  16. CHAPTER NINE Implementation Challenges
    (pp. 73-78)

    This chapter discusses some of the implementation challenges the clinics have faced in their first few years of federal funding and how they have worked to overcome them. Some of the challenges, such as initial resistance from prosecutors and funding limitations, have affected all of the clinics, while other challenges have been experienced by only a few of the clinics.

    Perhaps the biggest implementation challenge for the clinics overall has been finding ways to break down the resistance of prosecutors, and some judges, to the idea of victims being represented by attorneys in court. Although, as detailed in Chapter Two...

  17. CHAPTER TEN Clinic Successes and Promising Practices
    (pp. 79-82)

    All of the clinics were able to point to numerous trial-court successes in ensuring that victims’ rights were honored, and four of the seven active clinic sites had had at least one successful appellate case. Victims interviewed at each site sang the praises of the clinics and left no doubt that the clinics’ work in individual cases was highly valued.

    The different clinics had, mostly through trial and error and sometimes on instinct, developed certain practices that helped overcome challenges and led to specific successes. In this chapter, we highlight some of these promising practices.

    Several of the clinics were...

  18. CHAPTER ELEVEN Conclusions and Recommendations
    (pp. 83-88)

    From the information we gathered during the course of the process evaluation, we believe that the state clinics are beginning to fulfill the intentions of their architects and funders. All of the clinics have pushed the envelope of victims’ rights in their state courts. Some have won significant victories in gaining standing for victims and expanding the definition of particular rights. Others are enjoined in the battle. But all have raised awareness of victims’ rights with prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, and police officials.

    How much the clinics have managed to alter the legal culture remains to be determined through the...

  19. References
    (pp. 89-112)