This is the executive summary of a report that describes a process evaluation of the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) State and Federal victims' rights clinics, which were established to promote awareness, education, and enforcement of crime victims' rights in the criminal justice system.
The evaluation found significant diversity in the way clinics have been structured. They ranged from being part of victim services programs to being located within a law school. Clinics were also found to differ substantially in their approaches and methods of operating. Differences existed in the number of cases opened annually, referral sources, case specialization, and approach to representing clients. The evaluation also found that although there were problems with the use of pro bono attorneys to assist victims, they have potential for expanding the number of cases that clinics handle and their geographic outreach. Although the clinics' top priority has always been on addressing violations of clients' legal rights, most of the clinics have also addressed all of victims' crime-related needs, either directly or through referrals. The principal victim-rights issue that has been addressed by the clinics is victim standing before the court. In this regard, some clinics have won significant gains at the appellate and Federal court levels; for example, the Maryland clinic has had three appellate cases related to victim standing that ultimately resulted in a newly expanded court rule that gives victims the right to participate in a criminal appeal in the same manner as a party regarding issues that directly and substantially impact the victim's rights. The evaluation conducted a site visit to each clinic. The principal source of information came from interviews with the clinic director and staff. Each site visit also included a focus group with victims who were past or current clients of the clinic. 1 table
Date Published: August 1, 2009