BWJP has served as the national resource center on civil and criminal justice responses to domestic violence since 1993, when funding to set up the center was granted from the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To address issues related to the defense of domestic violence victims charged with crimes, including homicide, BWJP partners with the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women, to provide training and technical assistance on these cases.

BWJP promotes change within the civil and criminal justice systems that enhances their effectiveness in providing safety, security and justice for battered women and their families. BWJP provides technical assistance to advocates, civil attorneys, judges and court personnel, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, probation officers, batterers intervention program staff, and policymakers; and to victims of domestic violence and their families and friends. Through trainings, consultations, and publications, we disseminate up-to-date information on recent research findings and promote the implementation of best practices and policies that emerge from the work of pioneering communities around the country.

To enhance BWJP’s ability to identify, interpret, and disseminate relevant research findings to advocates, justice professionals, and the public, BWJP contracts with the Family Violence Institute (FVI) at Northern Arizona University, under the direction of Neil Websdale, PhD, to serve as our research partner.

Current Activities include:

  1. Training and Technical Assistance. BWJP handles about 2,000 requests for information and referral via phone or email each year. Quarterly eNewsletters alert constituents to new resources, models of promising practices, publications and research, key case law decisions, and upcoming trainings. Legal research is conducted on an ongoing basis and comparative analyses of state statutes are created and updated regularly. BWJP offers 20-25 webinars and several trainings on various legal topics each year. Policy briefs are published each year on emerging issues in the field.
  2. Coalition Advocates and Attorneys Network (CAAN). To facilitate legal policy efforts nationwide and in Indian Country, BWJP and the National Indian Women’s Resource Center co-sponsor annual CAAN meetings to advance the legal policy efforts of state and tribal coalitions, and promote increased understanding by the state coalitions of tribal policy issues. Financial support is provided to enable coalition members to attend.
  3. Amicus Briefs and Appellate Activities. BWJP monitors case developments in state and federal courts, in partnership with other organizations involved in related legal work. To ensure that the interests of battered women and their children are protected, in collaboration with other national organizations and state coalitions staff develop and submit amicus briefs in 4-5 appellate cases each year that have the potential to significantly impact law and public policy related to DV.
  4. Special Project -Custody Decisions in Cases involving DV. BWJP is partnering with the Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Child Protection and Custody of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) to respond to state coalition leaders who have requested support in initiating a major focused national advocacy strategy to address the widespread problems with custody determinations involving DV victims and their children. A survey to identify current issues will be completed in FY2018. BWJP is also examining how child support policies and practices that require custody determinations without assessing for DV create access barriers or safety risks for DV victims and their children, especially for families living in poverty. In FY2018, the partners will convene meeting of coalition advocates, legal services, and others to highlight the opportunities, needs, and challenges for survivors in child support systems and to inform the content and delivery of training and technical assistance on this topic.
  5. Special Project - Unintended Consequences of Mandatory Arrest Policies on Women and Juvenile Girls. BWJP is exploring this issue with a small national group of DV and juvenile justice leaders to identify potential policy solutions and promote promising practices in both the DV and juvenile justice fields that will reverse the inappropriate arrests of women and girls.
  6. Defense Activities. Staff from the Clearinghouse provide customized case-specific technical assistance to battered victim defendants and their defense teams (including advocates, defense attorneys, expert witnesses, and others). They develop resources and conduct training programs that address ongoing and emerging issues, including defense-based advocacy, reentry issues, use of expert witnesses, and alternatives to incarceration.

BWJP Amicus Activity: 2018-2020

Case Name Jurisdiction Date Brief Filed Issue/s BWJP participation Result 
In re B.H.  Minnesota Supreme Court March 2020 In a sexual assault prosecution, the trial court ordered the State and the victim to surrender her cell phone to the defendant for forensic analysis. Filing in support of State and victim's appeal that such a requirement is not valid as the victim's phone was not in the care, custody or control of the State and thus not subject to such discovery orders. Review and sign on as co-amici pending
In re MAA Board of Immigration Appeals February 2020 Immigration judge denied victim's application under VAWA provisions to prevent removal from the country, having relied on evidence received from the victim's abusive partner. Filing in support of victim's appeal that the use of such information violated the confidentiality protections provided for immigrant victims by VAWA provisions. Review and sign on as co-amici pending
Minnesota v. Casillas MN Supreme Court February 2020 Supporting State's argument that statute prohibiting non-consensual dissemination of private images is not overly broad and does not violate 1st Amendment requirements Review and sign on as co-amici pending
McGirt v. Oklahoma U.S. Supreme Court January 2020 In support of the defendant's argument that the Creek Nations' tribal lands in OK had never been disestablished by Congress, the amicus brief seeks to protect the ability of tribes to maintain criminal jurisdiction over tribal members and non-members for minor crimes committed on tribal lands, specifically for VAW crimes as provided for the VAW Act. Review and sign on as co-amici pending
Casa de Maryland et al., v. Trump et al. U.S. District Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit January 2020 In an effort to restrict immigration, the Dept of Homeland Security implemented new rules, expanding the "public charge" limitation, that denies entrance/remainder in the country if the individual has utilized any public benefit program, such as food stamps. The amicus brief focused on the negative and deadly effects this rule change will have on immigrant victims of domestic violence, supporting efforts to stop the rule's enforcement. Review and sign on as co-amici pending
Lamprell v. New Mexico U.S. Supreme Court December 2019 Mother petitions US Supreme Court for review of the state court order, which changed custody to father, arguing that the state court's reliance upon an out-of-court evaluation report, which she did not have the opportunity to review or challenge, violated her due process rights. The amicus brief highlighted the renegade nature of custody evaluations in family courts across the country and the need to implement consistent and effective standards. Drafting and submitting amicus brief in support of mother's petition for certiorari Mother's petition denied by U.S. Supreme Court
Cook County, IL. et al, v. McAleenan et al U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division September 2019 In an effort to restrict immigration, the Dept of Homeland Security implemented new rules, expanding the "public charge" limitation, that denies entrance/remainder in the country if the individual has utilized any public benefit program, such as food stamps. The amicus brief focused on the negative and deadly effects this rule change will have on immigrant victims of domestic violence, supporting efforts to stop the rule's enforcement. Review and sign on as co-amici pending
Casa de la Raza et al, v. Trump et al U.S. District Court, District of Maryland September 2019 In an effort to restrict immigration, the Dept of Homeland Security implemented new rules, expanding the "public charge" limitation, that denies entrance/remainder in the country if the individual has utilized any public benefit program, such as food stamps. The amicus brief focused on the negative and deadly effects this rule change will have on immigrant victims of domestic violence, supporting efforts to stop the rule's enforcement. Review and sign on as co-amici pending
Casa de la Raza et al, v. Trump et al U.S. District Court, District of Maryland September 2019 In an effort to restrict immigration, the Dept of Homeland Security implemented new rules, expanding the "public charge" limitation, that denies entrance/remainder in the country if the individual has utilized any public benefit program, such as food stamps. The amicus brief focused on the negative and deadly effects this rule change will have on immigrant victims of domestic violence, supporting efforts to stop the rule's enforcement. Review and sign on as co-amici pending
State of WA, et al. v. Dept of Homeland Security et al U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington September 2019 In an effort to restrict immigration, the Dept of Homeland Security implemented new rules, expanding the "public charge" limitation, that denies entrance/remainder in the country if the individual has utilized any public benefit program, such as food stamps. The amicus brief focused on the negative and deadly effects this rule change will have on immigrant victims of domestic violence, supporting efforts to stop the rule's enforcement. Review and sign on as co-amici pending
Daniel et al, v. Armslist U.S. Supreme Court August 2019 Survivors of firearm homicide victim are seeking damages from the online marketplace, Armslist, claiming the site allows the sale/purchase of firearms through third parties that do not comply with required federal and/or state background checks. This amicus supported the survivors' petition for cert., highlighting the importance of background checks and firearms prohibitions for domestic violence offenders. Review and sign on as co-amici pending
Thornton v. Bosquez MN Supreme Court March 2019 In Custody case, mother was awarded custody of child in spite of her prior domestic abuse. When father appeals, mom argues that trial court applied the required rebuttable presumption and determined that she had successfully overcome it, so awarding her primary custody did not violate the state statute. Review and sign on as co-amici pending
E.V. v. R.V. NY Court of Appeals February 2019 In custody case, the trial court awarded primary custody to father, in reliance upon its theory that mother "alienated" the child from father. Mother appeals, arguing that court's reliance on discredited alienation theory was inappropriate. Review and sign on as co-amici Appeals Court denied mother's motion to appeal trial court ruling.
N.E. v. L.E. Indiana Court of Appeals January 2019 Victim filed for civil protection order, but court refused to hold a hearing given the concurrent presence of criminal DV charge and criminal no contact order. Victim appealed, arguing that the state statute entitles victims to seek civil protection order and that the court should have held a hearing and let her present evidence, Review and sign on as co-amici Appeals Court ruled that the trial court erred when it did not hold a hearing on victim's civil petition as the civil protection order provides relief no matter what other legal cases may be pending.
Royal v. Murphy U.S. Supreme Court September 2018 In support of the defendant's argument that the Creek Nations' tribal lands in OK had never been disestablished by Congress, the amicus brief seeks to protect the ability of tribes to maintain criminal jurisdiction over tribal members and non-members for minor crimes committed on tribal lands, specifically for VAW crimes as provided for the VAW Act. Review and sign on as co-amici pending
Carome v. Carome DC Court of Appeals July 2018 In this appeal from a denial of a protection order, the amicus brief argued that the judge's bias and misconceptions about women's allegations of domestic violence had the effect of improperly discounting the victim's credibility and unfairly denying the order. Review and sign on as co-amici pending
Application of JMM, on behalf of minor children MN Supreme Court July 2018 In this name change appeal, the amicus brief demonstrated how a notice requirement to the abusive parent could create further danger for the victim and children and, under the specific statute, notice should thus be considered "impracticable."  Review and sign on as co-amici pending
Purcell v. Purcell CA Court of Appeals, 4th Appellate District March 2018 In this appeal from a denial of a protection order, the amicus brief addressed issues involving victim reporting of physical and sexual assaults, specifically how coercive control tactics keep victims from accessing help and how the effects of trauma lead victims to delay or refuse to report physical or sexual violence. Review and sign on as co-amici pending
In the Matter of R.M.A.A. Dept of Justice, Executive Office of Immigration Review February 2018 The judge in the asylum trial failed to consider how trauma can affect a victim's demeanor and testimony. The amicus brief addressed the misconceptions about the effects that severe trauma can have on a victim's testimony and perceived credibility. Review and sign on as co-amici pending