FVAP’s client lived with her boyfriend who was abusive. Survivor requested a DVRO with a move out order, which would have excluded her boyfriend from their shared rental unit. The trial court granted the DVRO, but denied the move-out order stating it was up to the landlord, not the court, to decide who got to stay in the unit. Survivor appealed, and the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s judgment. The Court of Appeal reversed because a trial court has the power to order a restrained party to move out of a shared rental unit and a landlord does not have the authority to force just one tenant out of a shared rental unit.
FVAP thinks this is an important case because it is the first case explaining trial courts’ authority to grant move-out orders when parties live together in a rental unit. Specifically, it plainly states that courts may grant move out orders excluding the restrained party from the shared rented home and may make orders regarding lease and utility payments. If published, this case may encourage more trial courts to grant move out orders, allowing more survivors to stay housed and avoid homelessness.
It also reinforces tenant protections against “self-help” evictions, which is when a landlord kicks out a tenant without going through the court eviction process. By explaining that a landlord cannot change the unit’s lock to lock out a tenant without a move-out order and by explaining the landlord’s obligation to go through the eviction process to regain possession of a premises, this opinion reinforces existing laws against self-help evictions.
Executive Director Erin Smith stepping down in 2023 after 11 years
Executive search firm to conduct national search for FVAP’s next leader
It is with equal measures of pride for the organization’s past, and confidence for its future, that FVAP announces Executive Director Erin Smith has decided to step down in 2023. This will mark Erin’s 11th year leading FVAP, having co-founded the organization in 2012. In that time, under Erin’s stewardship, FVAP’s outstanding staff has grown the organization from a start-up non-profit to an established legal services organization providing statewide services in two states to survivors of domestic violence and gender-based abuse. Over the past 11 years, FVAP is proud to have:
- Contributed to the publication of 57 legal cases in California and 1 in Washington State so far, which help 237,000 abuse survivors each year in California alone.
- Expanded our effective, strategic statewide model to 2 states: California and Washington.
- Grown to a staff of 18 supported by an annual budget of $2.4 million.
Erin proudly remains a Supporting Leader of FVAP’s 3-year Rise & Soar fundraising campaign. She plans to be FVAP’s most enthusiastic ambassador, and to support FVAP in the ways most helpful to the organization, in her new capacity for years to come.
It has been the honor and privilege of my career to have led Family Violence Appellate Project from inception to legal powerhouse over the last decade. After these many years, I am ready for a new challenge and excited to see what the next phase of my career has in store. I have been inspired to do my best every day by the courageous and powerful survivors we serve: those whose names we know because we represented them in their legal cases, and those whose names we don’t know because they are one of the hundreds of thousands of survivors whose cases benefit from the binding legal precedent that FVAP has helped to build. I am immensely proud of our dedicated staff who devote themselves to serving survivors and their children, and who are well-positioned to continue FVAP’s work moving forward.” — Erin Smith (she/her)
The Board is grateful to Erin for her decade long service to survivors, their families and advancing FVAP’s mission. Her vision and commitment to increasing access to justice to survivors led a strong set of programs that have grown in California and recently expanded to Washington State. Erin will be missed and we believe that the foundation she has laid to ground us in the core values of justice, diversity and equity have prepared FVAP for the next chapter. “The Board is excited to find FVAP’s next outstanding Executive Director to lead FVAP into this next phase of its future. We are confident that FVAP’s excellent staff and Board will position the incoming executive to succeed.” — Maricela Rios-Faust, Board Chair & Chief Executive Officer of Human Options, comprehensive domestic violence agency in Orange County, California
The Board has partnered with Scion Executive Search Firm to conduct a national search for FVAP’s next Executive Director. Scion has a strong commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and is working with the Board to ensure that the process of finding FVAP’s next Executive Director is inclusive, equitable, and results in a diverse group of candidates. Scion is a national, award-winning executive search firm that specializes in non-profit organizations and foundations, with clients including the Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, Maryland Legal Aid, Berkeley Student Cooperative, Nature Conservancy, and Make-A-Wish. Interested applicants should contact Ex Hopson (they/them) at email@example.com. FVAP will continue to share information during the search process.
For more information about FVAP, visit www.fvaplaw.org.
FVAP believes in reproductive rights and privacy. We believe in all persons’ rights to autonomy over their bodies and to make their own choices in healthcare decisions. Reproductive choice deeply impacts survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence, which can result in unwanted pregnancies. We know that domestic violence markedly increases during pregnancy, making pregnancy a particularly dangerous time for abuse survivors. FVAP recently supported a policy that helped clarify California’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act, recognizing that reproductive coercion is a form of domestic abuse.
Reproductive coercion is one type of power and control where one partner strips the other of the ability to control their own reproductive system and timeline. It’s important to understand that reproductive coercion, rape-related pregnancy and domestic violence all intersect. A November 2021 study, the first of its kind in the U.S., found that pregnant women die by homicide more frequently than from pregnancy related health conditions. In fact, homicide is the number one cause of death for pregnant women in this country. The number increases for pregnant Black women and pregnant young women. Sadly, most of these women are killed by their partners. In other words, pregnancy increases a person’s chance of being killed by a partner. This is why FVAP remains committed to supporting policy that protects survivors of gender-based and intimate partner violence. We will continue to stand with our communities in solidarity and seek justice through our legal system.
FVAP Celebrates Pride Month
June is Pride month, a time to celebrate and support the LGBTQIA2S+ community.
FVAP celebrates the progress the LGBTQIA2S+ movement has made over the years, from the resistance of oppression during the Stonewall Riots to the passing of legislation supporting LGBTQIA2S+ civil rights. Still, there is much work to be done. Despite advances in equality since that time, threats to the LGBTQIA2S+ community abound: so far this year, nearly 240 anti-LGBTQIA2S+ bills have been filed, primarily targeting trans people and, in particular, trans youth. While 2021 marked the highest number of anti-trans legislation in the history of the US, 2022 is slated to break that record. Pride Month reminds us that written in history are the many accomplishments made by the LQBTQIA2S+ community, from advocacy to the passing of unprecedented civil rights legislation. FVAP joins those committed to human rights in honoring this month as an opportunity for reflection, celebration and renewed commitment to continue progressing forward in the spirit of advocacy and allyship to combat anti-LGBTQIA2S+ legislation.
FVAP Honors Juneteenth
Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in America as it was historically known. This holiday is considered to be the longest running African-American holiday and has been called America’s second Independence Day. While we honor this milestone in history, FVAP recognizes that many systems and institutions still exist that enslave and jeopardize human freedoms.
FVAP recognizes and observes Juneteenth as part of our year-round commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We celebrate the victories of the past as we recognize the challenges of the present; we commit to a better, more equitable future for all, especially Black Americans.
In 2021, twenty-five years after the first bill to recognize Juneteenth was introduced, President Joe Biden signed into law the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act”. FVAP staff honored this historic day by reflecting on its meaning and connection to our work, clients, community and staff.
June 19th is recognized as “Juneteenth”, a commemoration signifying the end of enslavement for African descendants of the transatlantic slave trade. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was the public pronouncement of the end of slavery. It wasn’t until June 19th, 1865 – more than two years later – that the Proclamation was announced to the enslaved people living in Galveston, Texas.
Juneteenth is a day of celebration, a celebration of independence like the Fourth of July. This day of pride signifies liberation and serves as a starting point for honoring the many contributions African Americans have made toward the industrialization of the United States. It is also a time for reflection and to recommit to daily actions to dismantle the institutional racism that still exists in our society.
Summary of Request
Family Violence Appellate Project (“FVAP”) seeks to transform its website into a comprehensive, user-friendly Legal Resource Library (“Project”) for attorneys, advocates, and survivors of domestic violence and gender-based abuse. The database will consist of model briefs, motions and pleading templates, toolkits and tip sheets, legal resources, social science research, and trainings developed by FVAP. FVAP seeks proposals from vendors to build and develop this Legal Resource Library on FVAP’s existing WordPress website platform.
FVAP is a California and Washington state non-profit legal organization whose mission is to ensure the safety and well-being of survivors of domestic violence and other forms of intimate partner, family, and gender-based abuse by helping them obtain effective appellate representation. FVAP provides legal assistance to survivors of abuse at the appellate level through direct representation, collaborating with pro bono attorneys, advocating for survivors on important legal issues, and offering training and legal support for legal services providers and domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking counselors. FVAP is the California State Bar-funded Support Center with expertise in domestic violence law, family law, and appellate procedure.
By centering our work on the most marginalized survivors, including rural, immigrant, Native American, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ communities, FVAP works to transform the power of the civil legal system to support all survivors of abuse. A significant part of this work is ensuring survivors, especially those experiencing multiple oppressions, and the people who support them, have access to the legal information, resources and remedies they need to achieve justice.
History of FVAP’s website and Legal Resource Library:
FVAP was founded in 2012, and launched its website (www.fvaplaw.org) that year. The Legal Resource Library was launched in approximately 2016. FVAP’s website and Legal Resource Library is hosted on WordPress.
In 2021, the California Access to Justice Commission (“CA ATJ”) announced an RFP for the Legal Aid Infrastructure & Innovation Grants. FVAP applied to upgrade its Legal Resource Library, and was selected as a grantee in early 2022. This project is being funded by the CA ATJ grant.
Project Overview and Purpose:
FVAP relies extensively on thousands of documents (including social science and law review articles, legal briefs, case law, research memos, referral resources and sample motions) both for impact appellate litigation and to provide technical assistance and written resources to attorneys, advocates, and self-represented litigants. Currently, FVAP has numerous independent systems for storing these resources, creating significant barriers to accessing and maintaining the resources. Additionally, only a small portion of these legal resource documents are available to attorneys, advocates, and self-represented litigants on FVAP’s website. FVAP has not had the capacity to further develop and maintain a comprehensive Legal Resource Library for the public. As an example, FVAP has over 7,000 files containing social science and legal research information that is not currently available on its website. Furthermore, survey responses have shown that individuals searching FVAP’s website for resources find it “cumbersome” and difficult to locate materials. Access to these resources is critical for attorneys, advocates, and self-represented litigants.
Goals and Outcomes:
An easy-to-use, highly effective, up-to-date resource library will significantly increase access to self-help materials, advocate resources, sample briefs and other legal resources, and social science and law review articles targeted to the appropriate audience. The external outcomes will be:
- Self-represented DV survivors in California and Washington will have better access to legal information and resources to help them with their cases (estimated 200,000+ people/year)
- DV advocates in California and Washington will have better access to legal information and resources to help their survivor clients
- Legal aid attorneys in California and Washington will have better access to sample briefs, research, and social science to help survivors in trial court
- Legal aid attorneys nationwide will have better access to DV social science research and materials, as well as sample amicus briefs, to help survivors in trial or appellate courts