Domestic Violence Custody Cases Could Go to the Supreme Court
Thursday, March 20, 2008 10:39 AM

The situation battered mothers face in the state family court system has often been trying, and even disastrous for women and children’s safety. For many years, advocates have been attempting to reform the system and provide better protection.


Most family law issues are matters for the state courts. However, advocates, lawyers, and court watch groups have long noted the violations to the guarantee of a fair and competent trial. This may include judges excluding abuse allegations or holding ex parte conversations without one party present.


Now, one group, Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP), based in Washington D.C., is attempting to take appropriate cases all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if needed. The group is looking for lawyer referrals on cases that would be best suited for such a journey: those with “a pristine record of evidence and clear violations of [federal] due-process rights.” The case also must have gone through the state court system. Thus far, the group has seen many cases they wish could go to the Supreme Court, but has not found a solid case that is “truly ready.”


The group is attempting to the spread the word though conferences and public awareness. Informing people of their efforts also encourages better tracking of cases. Staff attorneys are providing technical assistance to lawyers on how to petition the Supreme Court for consideration of these cases. The group is also preparing a publication of best practices to assist lawyers and parties in positioning their cases for potential Supreme Court review. It is due out this spring.


Compiled from: Bowen, Alison, “Custody Cases Put Under Supreme Legal Watch,” Women’s eNEWS, 13 March 2008.