This will be the 11th Annual Crime Victim Law Conference, marking the start of the second decade of dedicated rights enforcement in this country.  This Conference continues to be the only national conference in the country focusing on rights enforcement in criminal cases, which is a critical but often overlooked component of holistic victim services.  The Conference provides participants with the knowledge and practical skills necessary to provide effective legal services to victims of crime. The Conference will take place June 8-9, 2012 in Portland, Oregon.

The purpose of the 2012 Conference, themed Enhancing Justice: Empowerment Through Victims’ Rights, is to recognize that each victim has unique needs, and that we must respond to those needs to empower each victim and enhance justice.  The audience of the Conference is a growing community of attorneys, advocates, allied professionals, law students, professors, and victims/survivors that understands rights enforcement and will engage in a multi-disciplinary national conversation on how victims’ rights can empower victims and broaden the horizons of our justice system.  To achieve this purpose, the Conference will feature plenary sessions and breakout sessions addressing topics of critical importance to the victims’ rights community, taught by leading experts from across the country.

View the Conference brochure below or download the PDF version by clicking here.

Who Should Attend?

This year’s Conference will have an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together experts from a variety of backgrounds including attorneys (e.g., victims’ rights attorneys, prosecutors, civil victim attorneys, judges, defense attorneys), system-based and community-based advocates, other criminal justice professionals, law students, professors, mental health professionals, and victims/survivors.

For a list of frequently asked questions, click here

Join NCVLI on the evening of the first day of the Conference, June 8, 2011, to celebrate another year of hard work on behalf of victims. Whether you are attending the Conference or can only come out for the evening, join NCVLI to relax, have fun, and network with colleagues from across the nation while enjoying live music, food, and drinks. More information will be available soon.

Legal Advocacy Award

NCVLI’s Legal Advocacy Award recognizes crime victims’ rights attorneys who have dedicated and committed their time to representing victims of crime in the criminal justice system.

2012 Recipient – Erin Olson

Erin K. Olson specializes in the representation of victims of child sexual abuse and elder abuse in both civil and criminal courts.  She has litigated dozens of child sexual abuse cases against individuals, private secular organizations, and governmental entities.  She has litigated numerous elder abuse cases in state and federal courts as well.  She often represents her civil clients’ interests in the criminal prosecutions of their abusers, and occasionally is called upon to represent victims and witnesses in criminal cases when their constitutional or statutory rights are not being honored.

Ms. Olson spent the first ten years of her legal career as a prosecutor, working for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon, and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.

She is a co-founder and board member of the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center, and is the President-Elect of the National Crime Victim Bar Association.

Past Recipients:

  • Wendy Murphy (2001)
  • Lyn Schollett (2002)
  • Cynthia Lee Carter (2003)
  • Jay Howell (2003)
  • Richard D. Pompelio (2004)
  • Paul Cassell (2005)
  • Cynthia Hora (2006)
  • Jamie Mills (2007)
  • Steven J. Twist (2008)
  • Crime Victims Legal Assistance Project (2009)
  • Heidi Nestel (2010)
  • Steven Kelley (2011)


Gail Burns-Smith Excellence in Victim Services Award

A member of our Board of Directors from 2002 until her untimely death in 2009, Gail Burns-Smith was a tireless leader in the victim services community.  This award honors her legacy by recognizing outstanding efforts to advance the rights of crime victims.

2012 Recipient – Jennifer Storm

Jennifer Storm is the Executive Director of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program (VWAP) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  A private, nonprofit organization dedicated to serving victims of crimes, VWAP’s mission is to reduce the trauma of a crime by empowering and assisting clients in reconstructing their lives through advocacy, support, information, and referrals. In assisting over 8,000 crime victims and witnesses annually, VWAP strives to prevent further victimization by intervening on behalf of its clients to address any problems created by their involuntary involvement in the justice system. Ms. Storm’s job consists of everything from procuring and sustaining a budget of one million dollars and managing a staff of eighteen to working hand-in-hand with law enforcement and prosecutors.  In her role as first responder, she can been seen at any hour of the day or night at a crime scene, the hospital or the home of a family giving notification of a loved-one’s tragedy, a funeral service paying respects, working at her office trying to help victims have funeral expenses paid, as well as in the courtroom walking families through the criminal justice system.

Past Recipients (formerly the Victim Advocacy Award):

  • Gail Burns-Smith (2004)
  • Kathy Skaggs (2005)
  • Diane Moyer (2006)
  • John Stein (2007)
  • Roberta Roper (2008)
  • Steve Derene (2009)
  • Steve Doell (2010)
  • Anne Seymour (2011)


2012 Victims’ Rights Partnership Award

NCVLI’s Victims’ Rights Partnership Award recognizes the collaborative efforts of individuals and/or organizations who have devoted their time to advancing crime victims’ rights.

2012 Recipient – Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center & Denver District Attorney’s Office

The Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center (RMvlc) provides free legal representation for victims of violent crime in criminal cases aiding with the enforcement of both Colorado and Federal Crime Victim’s Rights Acts.  RMvlc operates as independent legal counsel charged to protect the legal rights and best interests of the victim through a broad-based approach grounded in litigation, creative problem-solving, and extensive knowledge of the judicial system.  RMvlc was started as a part of a national network of clinics organized under The National Crime Victim Law Institute.  Founders John Clune, JD, and Shari Vanino, Psy.D. now serve on the Board.  Lisa Teesch-Maguire, Esq., is the Legal Director for RMvlc, specializing in victims’ rights and direct legal representation for crime victims.  Ms. Teesch-Maguire was a prosecutor in the Office of the District Attorney, 18th Judicial District of Colorado and served as the Criminal Division Chief of the Attorney General’s Office in American Samoa.  Ms. Teesch-Maguire received both her JD and M.BA from the University of Colorado in 2004.  She has also studied international law in Sweden and international affairs in the Netherlands.

The Denver District Attorney’s Office has 75 attorneys and approximately 125 support staff working on behalf of the citizens of Denver. Under the leadership of Denver District Attorney Mitchell R. Morrissey, the office maintains two priorities: prosecuting criminals to the fullest extent possible, and protecting the rights and interests of innocent victims.

Mitch Morrissey was elected District Attorney of Denver, Colorado in November 2004 and was sworn into office on January 11, 2005.  Mr. Morrissey is internationally recognized for his expertise in DNA technology, applying that technology in criminal prosecutions and working to ensure that DNA science is admissible in court.  He has trained law enforcement officers and prosecutors regarding DNA technology in the Middle East, Canada and throughout the United States.  A veteran prosecutor, he introduced the first DNA evidence used in a criminal trial in Denver.  The DNA Resource section of his Website,, has become a resource for people interested in forensic DNA throughout the world.

Past Recipients:

  • Grant County Prosecutor’s Office & Dano, Gilbert & Ahrend P.L.L.C. (2006)
  • Attorney General Hardy Myers (2007)
  • Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, James McIntyre, & Russ Rato (2008)
  • Mónica Ramírez (2009)
  • Victim Witness Section of the United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Arizona (2010)
  • Alaska Office of Victims’ Rights (2011)

Michael Fell

California-based attorney, Michael Fell, is the recipient of this year’s Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award.

Each year NCVLI honors a Pro Bono Attorney of the Year.  This award recognizes an attorney who has dedicated significant time to partnering with NCVLI in the protection, enforcement, and advancement of victims’ rights.  The recipient has either worked alongside NCVLI attorneys to assist with NCVLI’s work on legal technical assistance requests, amicus curiae briefs, and public policy projects; has provided direct representation to victims of crime in criminal proceedings; or, has served as local counsel in the filing of amicus briefs.  Pro bono attorneys are a crucial component in NCVLI’s mission and we are proud to honor a Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. This year’s recipient was honored at NCVLI’s 11th Annual Crime Victim Law Conference. 

About Michael Fell

Mr. Fell began his legal career in 1989 as a Deputy District Attorney for Orange County, prosecuting criminal cases for over 18 years. His experience as a senior deputy district attorney led to his commitment to protecting victims and he has been recognized for his efforts. In 2003 Mr. Fell received the Ambassador of Peace Award from the Violence Prevention Coalition of Orange County and he has also received accolades and awards from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Community Services Program/Victim Witness of Orange County and the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Orange County. Since leaving the DA’s Office, Mr. Fell has established his own firm concentrating on “non-violent” criminal defense and Marsy’s Law Victims’ Rights Representation.

Through the use of Marsy’s Law, the 2008 California Constitutional Victims’ Bill of Rights amendment, Mr. Fell has represented a multitude of clients. Two of his Marsy’s Law cases which garnered national attention include People v. John Gardner where Mr. Fell represented the family of Chelsea King, a 17 year-old girl who was brutally raped and murdered in 2010; and People v. Andrew Gallo, where Mr. Fell represented the families of Major League Baseball player Nick Adenhart, and his three companions who in 2010 fell victim to a drunk driver where only one companion survived.  Mr. Fell has also represented at a parole hearing Lynette Duncan, whose sister and father were murdered in 1977.

Mr. Fell has lectured on criminal issues for many years, including the training of police officers, investigators and prosecutors and also the San Diego and Orange County chapters of Parents of Murdered Children, explaining Marsy’s Law and how it may assist with their cases.

Matthew Merryman

Law student Matthew Merryman received this year’s Volunteer of the Year Award.

Each year NCVLI recognizes a Volunteer of the Year.  This award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a deep commitment to victims’ rights and has provided significant contributions to NCVLI’s work on behalf of victims.  Volunteers play an invaluable role in NCVLI’s work protecting, enforcing, and advancing victims’ rights and we are proud to honor a Volunteer of the Year.  This year’s recipient was honored at the 11th Annual Crime Victim Law Conference.

About Matthew Merryman

Matthew is currently a third-year law student at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. As a law student, Matthew focuses on the different sides of criminal law having interned for the National Crime Victim Law Institute and the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office in Kansas City, Missouri. As a native of Kansas City, he will be moving back to his hometown this July with his wife, where he will commence an externship with the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Western District of Missouri.

Matthew is also a trained victims’ advocate for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office Rape Victim Advocate Program and a Disaster Service Volunteer for the Red Cross. Matthew became interested in victims’ rights while working as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) with children of parents going through divorce and while acting as a legal observer for voter protection through the People for the American Way. Prior to attending law school, Matthew worked as a District Executive for the Boy Scouts of America in New Orleans, Louisiana where he facilitated a number of community and civic oriented programs for local youth.