TO OUR WONDERFUL FVAP COMMUNITY
To celebrate and honor Erin Smith’s incredible 11 years as the Co-founder and Executive Director of FVAP (Family Violence Appellate Project) and her upcoming departure from FVAP, we would like to share a sampling of the beautiful messages from the Board members, Staff, and FVAP supporters. If you would like to share your own messages with Erin, you may do so by adding them to the Kudoboard here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Erin, we wish you well in your future endeavors. Thank you for everything you have done for the organization and the survivors of family violence; you and your dedication will not be forgotten!
Family Violence Appellate Project’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Deborah Son as the organization’s new Executive Director. She begins the role effective February 6, 2023.
Deborah brings over fifteen years of experience in domestic violence advocacy, organizational leadership, and the nonprofit sector. She has co-authored advocacy letters and organized broad-scale grassroots efforts to raise attention for requests to appeal high-profile court decisions as they pertain the health of children, individuals, and families, leading awareness initiatives to leverage communications platforms and digital campaigns to bring light to the necessity of appealing dangerous cases. Additionally, Deborah has served as a nationally-recognized domestic violence trainer, technical assistance provider, and advocate; and has contributed to the design and implementation of dozens of psychosocial programs across the nation that support survivors and their communities.
“Much of my service and advocacy career has been dedicated to ending gender-based violence, advancing equitable care, and advocating for families to have the resources they need to thrive,” said Deborah Son. “I have committed myself to service in these issue areas to further combat the racism and institutional marginalization that often acts in direct barrier to those who need care the most. These passions are colored by my own lived experiences as a daughter of immigrants, a survivor of gender-based violence, and a witness to domestic violence in my own community.”
Most recently, Deborah served as the Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter (NASW-CA). At NASW-CA, Deborah stabilized the organization, generated transformative organizational change that embraced accountability and diversity, and ensured growth.
Prior to this, Deborah served the California Alliance of Child and Family Services as Director of Strategic Initiatives, using her skills in strategic planning and program growth to secure new revenue sources and build DEI frameworks and programs. Deborah also served as the Director of Policy and Strategy at Lincoln, where she raised the capacity of direct service providers so they could participate in legislative and systems changes that strengthened support for children and families. As Program Manager at Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Deborah traveled nationally and consulted on domestic violence homicide. It was her work at STAND! For Families Free of Violence (STAND!) and numerous other domestic violence and rape crisis organizations in the Bay Area, however, that kindled and cultivated her love for social and gender justice work.
“We are very excited to have Deborah join FVAP,” said Maricela Rios-Faust, Board President. “Her strong leadership abilities, deep understanding of gender-based violence, and passion for social justice are essential in leading FVAP during this next chapter.”
“I am thrilled that Deborah is joining FVAP,” said outgoing Executive Director and co-founder Erin Smith. “I have the utmost confidence in Deborah’s leadership and her passion for FVAP’s mission and the survivors we serve, and I believe she is the right person to lead FVAP into its next phase.” Erin will stay on with FVAP through February 28, providing transition support to Deborah. “On behalf of all the abuse survivors who have been helped by FVAP in the 11 years since its founding, the Board is immensely grateful to Erin for co-founding the organization, for stewarding it to become the recognized leader on legal issues that it is today, and for her years of service and hard work on behalf of survivors,” said Rios-Faust. “The Board appreciates Erin’s willingness to provide a smooth transition for Deborah and the organization.”
For more information about FVAP, visit www.fvaplaw.org.
Christy Porter was FVAP Washington’s very first client in Washington state in 2021. After over a year and a half, on December 27, 2022, she finally received the news she’s been waiting to hear.
In a published opinion, the Washington Court of Appeals agreed with Christy — the trial court should not have ordered joint decision-making in her parenting plan because the trial court had found the other party had a history of domestic violence. The trial court mistakenly reasoned that because the other party’s convictions were years in the past, that it had discretion not to follow the plain language of the statute. RCW 26.09.191(1) does not give the court discretion to deviate from the mandatory limitations on decision-making and dispute resolution. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanding to the trial court for entry of a finding of a history of domestic violence, and a parenting plan that follows the statute.
FVAP co-counseled this appeal with FVAP Board member Joanna McCallum, Partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, along with Manatt Partner Jessamyn Vedro.
Early in the case, our client also asked the appellate court for an Order of Indigency to cover the costs of the appeal, which includes a transcript quoted at nearly $10,000. This very rare motion was granted by the Washington Supreme Court.
Joanna McCallum made the journey all the way from Atlanta to argue before a panel at the Washington Court of Appeals, Division I, in-person, on November 9, 2022 in Seattle.
We are excited to share our 2021 Annual Report. Our success is driven by the dedicated staff, volunteers and board members here at FVAP. As we look forward, we know we will continue to face uphill battles…we remain committed to advancing social justice and racial equity in our communities.
Read our complete 2021 Annual Report here.
Our request for publication of Mishko v. Kerr was granted! You can find the published opinion here.
Why the case is important:
This publication will clarify when a trial court does not enter findings under RCW 26.09.191(1) and therefore errs in granting joint-decision making. It will also outline what constitutes substantial evidence of domestic violence. Additionally, the opinion specifically addresses continuing restraining order requests under Ch. 26.09 RCW and clarifies that substantial evidence of a history of domestic violence requires a court to consider a litigant’s request for a continuing restraining order.
Summary of the case:
After a trial to modify a parenting plan, the trial court entered limitations against the opposing party (“OP”) finding that he had engaged in “abusive use of conflict.” The court found that communications toward the mother were abusive as well as cited several behaviors aimed at the minor child. The trial court noted OP had completed a domestic violence treatment program. The trial court also heard testimony about OP’s past domestic violence and admitted into evidence a current Domestic Violence Protection Order against OP (filed by a different intimate partner and mother of OP’s other child). However, no ultimate findings of “a history of domestic violence” were entered into the final parenting plan, and the trial court granted joint decision-making to the parties. The unambiguous statutory standard is that “a history of acts of domestic violence” mandates sole decision-making to the parent without a domestic violence finding.
The court agreed with FVAP that the trial court did not enter restrictions that limited joint-decision making despite substantial evidence of a history of domestic violence presented at the hearing and instructed on remand that the trial court must consider the request for a restraining order in light of that evidence
In Y.L. v. L.T., FVAP successfully co-counseled with Katten Muchin Rosenman, LLP to file an Amicus Brief in support of L.T. In this case Y.L., the abusive party, filed an appeal after the trial court denied his request for a reciprocal domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) against L.T. On appeal Y.L. argued that there should be a bright-line rule that when someone reacts to emotional abuse with physical violence that person should be deemed a “primary aggressor” and a DVRO should be entered against them. The appellate court rejected Y.L.’s argument. The appellate court noted that, in mutual restraining order cases, 1) the trial court must determine which party is the most significant aggressor based on factors listed in Penal Code section 836 subd. (c)(3) and 2) the court must “consider the parties’ alleged acts of domestic violence in concert, and not separately” to determine whether someone is a primary aggressor. Our Amicus Brief addressed 1) how gender bias helps perpetuate erroneous primary-aggressor and self-defense determinations; 2) the detrimental effects of mutual-restraining orders on survivors, and 3) the need for courts to conduct detailed analysis in mutual restraining order cases to account for the history of abuse in the relationship and avoid inherent bias and stereotypes in domestic violence situations.