CLS Clinic Lauds NYS Senate Vote on Domestic Violence

CLS Clinic Lauds NYS Senate Vote on Domestic Violence
Columbia Law School Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic Lauds
New York State Senate Vote to Expand Domestic Violence Protection
“Family Court Access” Bill Brings NYS Into Line With the Rest of the U.S. By
Providing Civil Protective Orders for Dating and Cohabiting Couples
Press contact:
James O’Neill 212-854-1584 Cell: 646-596-2935
June 24, 2008 (NEW YORK) - The New York State Senate today approved important new domestic violence protection for individuals in dating and domestic partner relationships. The first version of the “Fair Access to Family Court” bill was introduced twenty years ago, but was bottlenecked in the state Senate for many years.
The Family Court’s broadened “family offense” jurisdiction will include people “who are or have been in a dating or intimate relationship” with their abusers. Until now, domestic violence victims could get civil protective orders from Family Court only if they were married or related to or had a child in common with their abuser. For everyone else – including dating and cohabitating couples and unmarried same-sex and elderly couples – only criminal orders of protection have been available. 
“Civil protective orders afford domestic violence victims broader protections and remedies and enable victims to have more control over their cases, and therefore more control over their lives,” said Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg, (at left) Director of Columbia Law School’s Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic. Studies show that civil protective orders are often important to reducing violence. While criminal protective orders can provide some redress, many domestic violence victims prefer or need civil protective orders, especially if they fear police bias or negative immigration consequences. 
Goldberg recently wrote an Op-Ed on the issue that appeared in the Journal News.
To contact Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg: call (212) 854- 0411 or email [email protected].
New York has been out of step with the rest of the nation – it is the only state that has kept such limited protection for domestic violence victims for so long. “The Senate’s vote will finally remedy New York’s longstanding discrimination against same-sex couples, teenagers, dating partners, and elderly couples,” added Goldberg. “Passing this bill is a critical step toward combating domestic violence and saving lives.”
The bill to expand access to civil protective orders for a broader category of domestic violence victims was first introduced to the New York Assembly in 1988 and first passed in 1991. The Assembly has passed this bill unanimously every year that it has voted on it. On the Senate side, the bill was first introduced in 2001 but had never before reached the floor for a vote. This year, the bill was cosponsored by Senators Winner, LaValle, Morahan, Nozzolio, and Robach.
The Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic joined with the newly formed New York State Coalition for Fair Access to Family Court in the comprehensive campaign for Senate passage. Three Clinic students —Julie Glasser ’09, Mollie Kornreich ’09, and Jennifer Stark ’09—were actively involved in the Coalition’s efforts, researching and analyzing national domestic violence statutes, creating advocacy materials, participating in educational sessions regarding the bill in Albany, and writing an Analysis and Advocacy Paper debunking myths surrounding the bill. “The bill is critical to make New York a safer place for survivors of domestic violence,” said Stark. “It was shocking to learn how regressive New York State law was in the domestic violence context– the law had an incredibly narrow view of what constitutes an intimate relationship,” added Kornreich. 
“Using legislative advocacy to try to expand domestic violence protections has been an invaluable experience for developing as a social justice lawyer,” said Julie Glasser, one of the Columbia Law School students involved in the legislative change effort. 
To contact students: email Julie Glasser at js[email protected], Mollie Kornreich at [email protected], or Jennifer Stark at [email protected].
Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic was founded in September 2006 and currently has eight students. Under Professor Suzanne Goldberg’s guidance, students have worked on a wide range of projects, from constitutional litigation and legislative advocacy to educational outreach and immigration assistance. Through the broad scope of its work, clinic students have had the opportunity to serve both individual and organizational clients, and have devoted over 8,000 hours to cases relating to sexuality and gender law. For more information, please visit the Clinic website at:
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