Dedicated to crime victims’ rights
What We Do
NCVLI addresses some of the most critical legal issues facing victims today. We employ our expertise in legal advocacy, education, training and public policy to protect, enforce and advance victims’ rights.
Education & Training
To secure a place for victims as participants with a legally recognized voice requires cultural change.
Legal advocacy is at the core of NCVLI’s work. Through impact litigation, we aim to set favorable court rulings interpreting rights to help individual victims and set precedent for future victims. Two of our most critical efforts in this area are our amicus curiae participation in courts nationwide as well as our legal technical assistance. Through this work it is our hope that in the next 10 years victims are able to secure true participatory status in the criminal justice system.
NCVLI participates in cases around the country as amicus curiae, which is Latin for “friend of the court.” Our input explains the national implications of cases to courts and suggests how their decision will impact future victims. Ultimately, to establish precedent so that tomorrow’s victims do not face the same hurdles as today’s victims, it is critical to secure decisions from the highest courts in each jurisdiction – state and federal. NCVLI aims to participate as amicus curiae in a minimum of 12 cases per year.
To ensure that victim attorneys and advocates everywhere can make the most sophisticated arguments on behalf of victims in every case, NCVLI provides legal technical assistance in the form of research, writing, and strategic advice nationwide. NCVLI’s legal team responded 179 requests for technical assistance this past year from all across the country. Request technical assistance from NCVLI here.
“If the rights of crime victims are to be vigorously protected and their needs addressed with care and compassion, two things are clear: Crime victims need lawyers and advocates, and their lawyers and advocates need NCVLI.”
–Steve Twist, President, Arizona Voice for Crime Victims
“I have had the blessing of working with NCVLI on a case of first impression. I could not have gotten to the Court of Appeals or held my own there without the incredible work of NCVLI. Not only did NCVLI provide research, writing and editing assistance but the team effort and collegial spirit really helped me put forth my very best. We might as well have been sitting in the same law office. It felt as though we had worked together for years.”
–Bilenda Harris-Ritter, Pro Bono Attorney, California
“NCVLI has been an indispensable partner in supporting and assisting pro bono victims’ rights attorneys across this country. Over the years, NCVLI’s staff of brilliant legal minds has provided assistance with cutting edge legal research, often on a moment’s notice, to ensure that when a victim’s right is violated there is a swift and just remedy. Their assistance is invaluable to victims.”
–Keli Luther, Senior Attorney, Arizona Crime Victims Legal Assistance Project
“NCVLI has played a critical role in assisting the weakest and most disadvantaged victims. For instance, when the rights of child victims of sexual or domestic violence were at risk, NCVLI attorneys helped research and craft arguments to protect these children. From the 4-year-old out-of-state victim who was about to be forced to repeatedly travel back to the city where the crime occurred, to the 6-year-old Navajo girl whose very capacity to testify was being challenged because of her cultural background, to a 13-year-old who was told she’d have to sit in a room with her accused rapist during a pretrial interview, without the involvement of NCVLI these victims might not have prevailed against these injustices.”
–Melissa Stephenson, Pro Bono Attorney, New Mexico
Education & Training
To secure a place for victims as participants with a legally recognized voice requires cultural change. This is because the traditional paradigm of a two-party system is entrenched in the training of prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and law students, and reverberates in popular culture. To change this, NCVLI conducts systemwide education on the meaning, scope, and enforceability of victims’ rights.
NCVLI trains on victims’ rights enforcement through its Crime Victim Litigation Clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School as well as in-person and virtual trainings, conference presentations, and a variety of publications.
NCVLI’s trainings are unique at every turn. From our annual Crime Victim Law Conference that continues to be the only national conference focused on victim law, to our Lewis & Clark Crime Victim Litigation Clinic that is one of only a handful in the country, to our unique rights enforcement trainings that range from introductory for those new to victims’ rights to advanced for those who want to deepen their knowledge of a particular topic to practical skills for those who want to hone their skills.
We focus on ensuring that everyone who interacts with survivors understands victims’ rights and enforcement of those rights in criminal cases.
Trainings are customizable by audience, length, and learning objective and can be taught in-person, using distance-learning technology, or through a combination of methods. Because protecting victims’ rights is often a multidisciplinary endeavor, NCVLI routinely partners with medical and mental health professionals to co-train.
Whether your audience consists of prosecutors, advocates, judges, law enforcement, allied professionals, community partners, students or a combination of these, and whether you have 1 hour or 2 days, a training from NCVLI will improve your understanding of and ability to protect victims’ rights.
No prior knowledge of victims’ rights is required to benefit from these trainings which can cover victims’ rights generally or focus on specific rights.
Recommended length: 1-2 hours
These in-depth explorations of complex victim law issues are an ideal follow-up to introductory trainings or a knowledge enhancement for those already experienced in victims’ rights.
Recommended length: 1.5-3 hours
Immersive, hands-on trainings that teach the “how to” of protecting victims’ rights.
Recommended length: .5-3 days
- History & Current Landscape of Victims’ Rights
- Victim Standing: What and Why?
- Financial Recovery for Victims
- Protecting Victim Privacy
- Neuroscience Informing Law
- Counterintuitive Victim Behaviors Explained through Science
- Accommodations: From Facility Dogs to CCTV
- Representation of Child-Victims
- State-Specific Litigation of Rights
- Intersection of Victims’ Rights and Rape Shield
- Opposing Invasive Subpoenas
- Ethical Challenges
- Preparing for Appellate Review
- Seeking Restitution for Human Trafficking victims
- Avoiding the Unauthorized Practice of Law
- Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights
To request one of these trainings or to customize your own, complete the training request form.
The Crime Victims Litigation Clinic (CVLC) at Lewis & Clark Law School offers second and third year law students the unique opportunity to be on the cutting edge of criminal law and procedure. In the CVLC, students will have the chance to work on a variety of casework and policy issues touching on sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, homicide, trafficking, “revenge porn”, “child pornography”, identity theft/fraud and much more. Over the years CVLC students have worked on high profile cases including those with defendants Kobe Bryant, Bill Cosby, Jeffrey Epstein, and Hope Solo.
NCVLI works to ensure that victims and their rights are part of public policy debates and decisions at the local, state, federal, and international levels. We work with policy partners to secure victims’ rights’ legislation that guarantees victims substantive rights and the procedural mechanisms to protect those rights. We provide model legislation, strategic analysis and advice, and expert testimony; and we issue Position Papers on emerging issues of law. Issues such as access to justice, victim privacy, meaningful participation and restitution, and rights enforcement are all areas that NCVLI tracks.
During the 2022 state legislative session NCVLI has been active in state legislatures to protect victims’ rights.
Check back often to learn about the latest topic in victims’ rights.
Ensuring survivors have meaningful rights requires that we know what the law is and how it is changing; it also requires that we learn lessons from each other so we can improve the law in every location. To ensure we all know what policy is under consideration in each state NCVLI uses an online Victims’ Rights Policy Tracking Tool to crowdsource policy information sharing. The tool allows attorneys, advocates, and allied policy professionals to share current policy issues so that NCVLI and colleagues nationally can engage with current policy issues.
If you have an update to information previously submitted, submit an update here.
- 2013: Provide letter to New Jersey advocacy groups fighting for new legislation that would allow victims to have free access to records related to crimes committed against them.
- 2013: Submit opposition to changes to Oregon trial court rules that would expand media coverage in violation of victims’ rights.
- 2011: Director testifies before the full U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary as part of Crime Victims’ Rights Week, updating Congress on the state of the nation and highlighting the need for Congress to fulfill its commitment to fund legal services for victims, and before the Oregon State House Judiciary Committee on victim restitution.
- 2011: Send policy memorandum to the Hawaii State Legislature on the propriety of allowing victims to proceed anonymously in civil cases against their perpetrators which aided passage of a new law protective of victims’ identities.
- 2009: Help draft the statutory scheme that provides the “how to” of asserting rights in Oregon.
- 2008: Help draft Measures 51 and 52 to make Oregon’s constitutional victims’ rights enforceable. Oregon voters approved these measures by a 3 to 1 margin.
- 2008: Aid in the drafting and passage of Proposition 9 (Marsy’s Law), which amended the California state constitution and provides victims with the rights to privacy, participation, and protection, and clear standing to enforce these rights.
- 2004: Help draft and work for passage of the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), 18 USC § 3771, which created strong and enforceable rights for victims in federal criminal cases.