We are looking for a part-time Administrative Assistant to join our small but dynamic staff of attorneys, fellows, and law clerks in a significant “back office” role in support of social justice. The ideal candidate will help ensure that the office is running efficiently and effectively and will be willing to pitch in wherever needed to support a start-up nonprofit program. The position is non-exempt, 20 hours/week, and at-will. The immediate supervisor is the Washington Senior Managing Attorney.
Abusers often seek restraining orders to further abuse or control survivors. When the trial court is deciding mutual requests for restraining orders, they cannot enter mutual restraining orders without first deciding that both parties are primary aggressors within the relationship, and that neither of them were acting in self-defense. The reason for this rule is that mutual domestic violence is very rare, and wrongful mutual restraining orders put the real victim of abuse at risk.
In FVAP’s K.L v. R.H. case, the Court of Appeal explained that the trial court made an error by considering the parties’ allegations separately. Instead, the trial court should weigh the acts of the parties against each other to decide which person was the most significant aggressor in the relationship, and whether either of them acted in self defense. In considering the case this way, the Court of Appeal rightly ruled that the opposing party was the most significant aggressor, and only he should have been restrained.
The trial court also made an error by relying on the survivor’s previous criminal conviction to issue a mutual restraining order against her because it was irrelevant since it did not relate to domestic violence or other serious violence. Particularly for Black women, like the survivor in this case, overpolicing and racial stereotypes result in criminal convictions. The limitations on what kinds of convictions can be used in domestic violence restraining order cases ensures that this racial bias doesn’t also result in wrongful mutual restraining orders.
FVAP litigated this case in collaboration with pro-bono co-counsel, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, UCI School of Law Domestic Violence Clinic, and Legal Aid SoCal. The Court of Appeal then granted our request for publication.
In addition to advocating for survivors in court, FVAP works with local, state, and federal policymakers to ensure the statutes, rules, and regulations used in court have survivors’ best interests at the forefront. It was a busy year for us working on such advocacy efforts. In California, at the local level we worked with survivor support agencies to ensure their county government officials follow laws regarding confidentiality and mandated reporting. And nationally, FVAP lobbied and signed onto multiple letters urging policymakers to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), establish an official awareness day for missing and murdered Native women and girls, improve the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, and close loopholes in the Victims of Crime Act. So far, federal actions have occurred on the Victims of Crime Act.
At the state level in California, FVAP has staff who serve on the Judicial Council Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee and on the California Lawyers Association Appellate Courts Committee. FVAP has also worked to ensure sufficient funding in the budget for items such as increasing the Equal Access Fund, ensuring court reports for trial court hearings, providing for ongoing sexual and domestic violence prevention programs, and allowing more workers to take paid sick leave. In addition, FVAP has provided comments to the Judicial Council on changes to their domestic violence restraining order and other court forms, amendments to court rules on preventing bias in court interactions, and guidelines for video remote interpreting.
Perhaps FVAP has been most active in working on state legislation in California. On the housing side, of the bills that are now law, FVAP submitted letters in support of AB 832 to protect tenants impacted by COVID-19, and AB 838 to ensure more equity in local inspections of habitability. Regarding domestic violence restraining orders, FVAP supported AB 1057 to clarify what is a firearm, SB 24 to restrict abusers’ access to children’s school, medical, or work information, SB 320 to clarify trial court procedure for ensuring restrained parties have turned over their firearms, SB 374 to clarify that coercive control (a form of disturbing the peace, which is a type of abuse) includes reproductive coercion, and SB 538 to allow restraining orders to be filed electronically and parties to appear remotely. FVAP also supported AB 262 to ease the process for clearing criminal records for human trafficking survivors, SB 498 to expand eligibility for accessing services funded by the Interest On Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA), and SB 654 to better protect children when testifying and when they are ordered to unsupervised visitation with an alleged abuser.
Some of the California bills FVAP has worked are now “two-year bills,” meaning they were not passed or dropped this year but will be continued to be worked on next year. These include AB 854 to temporarily stop Ellis Act evictions, AB 1493 to better protect against evictions of survivors, SB 373 to add debt protections for survivors, SB 537 to improve the child welfare system’s response to domestic violence, and SB 774 to provide for attorney-client privilege for complaints to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
Finally, FVAP’s new Washington office has been active in that state. For instance, FVAP provided input on HB 1320, which significantly amended statutes relating to all of the civil protective orders. And FVAP’s Washington staff are heavily involved in multiple workgroups to implement this legislation and to ensure gender equity in family court.
FVAP is seeking a fundraising professional to join our dynamic team for a significant development role in support of social justice. The ideal candidate will bring unique skills and experiences that help you successfully lead a 3-year fundraising campaign focused on major gifts, with a goal of raising $2.5-$3 million over three years. FVAP has the plan for the campaign in place after extensive work with a consultant, and we are seeking the right person to put it into action. You will coordinate the campaign and also play a significant role in meeting donors. You will also support the Board of Director’s fundraising efforts and provide staff support for the Board’s Development Committee. In addition, you will coordinate production of the Annual Report. You will join a three-person development team (including the Executive Director) that works collaboratively together to support the funding of a $2 million organization. We value diverse experiences and backgrounds. The immediate supervisor is the Executive Director.
Family Violence Appellate Project is the only organization in California and Washington State dedicated to appealing civil cases on behalf of survivors of domestic violence and other forms of intimate partner, family, and gender-based abuse. We are committed to social justice and are dedicated to shaping California and Washington law to prioritize the safety of survivors and their children. We are also committed to supporting the statewide networks of advocates for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and legal aid service providers. If you are interested in being part of this exciting social justice movement and resource for survivors and advocates across California and Washington, this is the place for you! You can learn more at www.fvaplaw.org.
This is an exciting time for FVAP and for this role in particular. We just expanded to open our second office in Washington earlier in 2021. Expansion raises new challenges and opportunities to grow, streamline, and integrate processes. We value diverse experiences and backgrounds. FVAP’s clientele is extremely diverse, and we serve individuals and advocates throughout both states, including rural, suburban, and urban populations. The Deputy Director can join our exceptional and dynamic staff in Oakland, California or Bellevue, Washington. The immediate supervisor is the Executive Director.