June 13, 2024 | 11:00 AM – 12:35 PM PST | Virtual

Lessons Learned at the Trial Level: Representing Victims in Criminal Court

The South Carolina Victim Assistance Network has represented victims at the trial level and also in appellate cases to enforce their rights. This presentation will review the lessons learned at trial level and ways to push back when a Judge is not enforcing the victims’ rights. Case studies include: a case involving the enforcement of a victim’s right to present an oral victim impact statement and have a timely and final conclusion in a homicide case; a case in which a writ of mandamus was sought to protect the surviving family member’s right to confer with the prosecution and have access to case documents; a contempt action against a bond company to enforce monitoring conditions of a defendant; and an appeal of an order requiring the release of therapy records of minor and adult victims of sexual and domestic abuse.

Basic NAVRA/General Public: $65

Enhanced NAVRA: $43.55


Presented By:

Sarah Ford

Legal Director, South Carolina Victim Assistance Network

Sarah Ford has served as Legal Director at the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network since 2017, where she leads a team of attorneys and advocates to provide direct legal services to South Carolina crime victims. A life-long South Carolinian, Sarah graduated from Columbia College with a B.A. in History and Political Science. Following graduation, Sarah taught with Teach for America in Charlotte, North Carolina before attending Charleston School of Law, where she was a member of Moot Court Board and President of Women in Law. She started her legal career as an assistant public defender in the 1st Judicial Circuit. She spent the next 8 years as a former prosecutor with a focus on crimes against women and children. Sarah also worked as an adjunct professor at Claflin University and South Carolina State University. Sarah routinely lectures on victims’ rights issues across South Carolina and beyond. Recently selected as a 20 Under 40 recipient by The State Newspaper, Sarah serves on many local, state, and national committees and taskforces, including the National Rural Justice Collaborative Advisory Council, the South Carolina Restitution Taskforce, and the National Crime Victim Law Institute’s Advisory Committee for Criminal Justice Training and Technical Assistance Project. Sarah is frequently featured in the media, commentating on crime and victims rights issues, and has been a regular guest on a number of programs, including Crime Stories with Nancy Grace. She is also involved in a number of community projects and organizations, including serving as Past President of Junior Service League of Orangeburg and Catch the Vision International, where she serves on the Haiti mission team.

Meghan Gilmer

enior Staff Attorney, South Carolina Victim Assistance Network

Meghan Gilmer has worked with victims of crime for 15+ years, first as a criminal prosecutor and now as a victims’ rights attorney with South Carolina Victim Assistance Network. Meghan began her legal career in 2008 as an Assistant State Attorney with the First Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office in Okaloosa County, Florida. Meghan moved back to her home state of South Carolina in 2011, where she continued as a criminal prosecutor with the 7th Judicial Circuit and the 16th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Offices. Meghan served on the Violence Against Women Team in the 7th Judicial Circuit, prosecuting domestic violence and sexual assault offenders. She then served as the first designated Domestic Violence Prosecutor in Union County, establishing a program to better seek justice for domestic violence survivors and hold offenders accountable. Meghan then joined South Carolina Victim Assistance Network in January 2021 as a Senior Staff Attorney.

Rebekah Hiatt

Legal Technology Director & Bilingual Staff Attorney, South Carolina Victim Assistance Academy

Rebekah Hiatt is the Legal Technology Director and a Bilingual Staff Attorney for the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network. As part of her role as Legal Technology Director, she runs the legal website and advocate mobile application, as well as the Legal Department’s Victim Advocate training program. As a staff attorney, she has represented victims on the magistrate, family, and general session court levels. Her caseload largely focuses on serving Spanish speaking victims of crime. Before joining SCVAN in 2018, her interests focused on immigration law–she has worked in immigration court and in the private sector. She received both her B.A. in History and J.D. from Brigham Young University. She learned Spanish in the Dominican Republic, where she lived for 1.5 years as a church service missionary. Ms. Hiatt is passionate about using technology to improve victims’ services. A true millennial, she enjoys making powerpoint presentations in her spare time.

Facilitated By: Julieanna Elegant