Domestic Violence

To date, the Domestic Violence Committee has met four times to discuss a variety of issues concerning domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The committee has highlighted a number of training efforts throughout the state, reviewed proposed court rule amendments and pending legislation where they affect victims of domestic violence.

Training: Many of the committee members are involved with the State Bar of Michigan's Pro Bono Project Training scheduled for May 15, 2003. A popular discussion topic for the committee is the need to increase availability of legal representation for indigent victims of domestic violence. This continuing need for free or low cost legal representation is even more critical in light of reduced funding available for legal aid clinics. Committee members are heavily involved in curriculum planning, attorney recruitment, participant recruitment, and serving as faculty for the training.

Another State Bar of Michigan training project that committee members were actively involved in was the Michigan Conference on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Legal System held in conjunction with the 15th Annual Meeting of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. The conference was April 10-12, 2003, and was sponsored by the Open Justice Commission for the State Bar of Michigan. This training, in part, focused on cultural competency as it impacts and effects domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Committee members come from diverse personal and professional backgrounds. The problem of domestic violence is shared by all that live within Michigan's borders. However, the perspectives and experiences of lawyers from unique practice backgrounds has led to valuable and rich discussions on the laws intended to protect victims of domestic violence.

The Committee reviewed many pending legislative bills and proposed court rule amendments over the past six months. Those bills and court rules reviewed came to the committee's attention through the State Bar of Michigan, other State Bar of Michigan committees or sections, and individual committee members. The committee's public policy reviews involved issues related to criminal law, domestic relations, and child protection, etc.