Victims’ rights are critical to justice. As is true of all rights, however, victims’ rights cannot be truly meaningful until they are enforced in our courts. While victims can assert their rights pro se (i.e., by themselves), victims fare much better when they have an attorney advocating for them.

Because the legal assertion of victims’ rights is an emerging field, the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) is committed to aiding each lawyer working with survivors to ensure the strategic development of positive case law. We can provide sample pleadings, provide national research, assist with litigation strategy, submit amicus curiae briefs and much more.

Meg Garvin, M.A., J.D.
Clinical Professor of Law and Executive Director of the NCVLI


What Marsy’s Law Does

Full Text of Marsy’s Law (As Passed By The Voters Of California In 2008)

State of California: Office of the Attorney General

National Crime Victims Bar Association

National District Attorneys Association

Tribal Institute

National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI)

The National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) is a non-profit research, education, and advocacy organization located at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. NCVLI is the only national organization in the country working to protect victims’ rights in criminal trial and appellate courts. NCVLI’s mission is to actively promote balance and fairness in the justice system through crime victim centered legal advocacy, education, and resource sharing.



NCVLI’s Bar Association NAVRA

The National Alliance of Victims’ Rights Attorneys (NAVRA) is NCVLI’s bar association committed to the protection, enforcement, and advancement of crime victims’ rights nationwide. Through increased communication, coordination, and training of attorneys and advocates working in victim law, NAVRA works to increase the availability of expert services for crime victims. Membership is open to attorneys, non-attorney victim advocates, crime victims, law students, and individuals interested in legal developments that affect crime victims.

NCVLI’s Library of Legal Resources

NCVLI’s Library of Legal Resources contains laws and educational material about crime victims’ rights. Included in library is the text of key victims’ rights laws of each jurisdiction, including the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act; publications from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime and other agencies; and informational publications from NCVLI.

NCVLI’s Technical Assistance for Attorneys and Advocates

NCVLI’s legal team provides legal research, writing, and strategic case advice on cutting edge victims’ rights issues to attorneys and advocates nationwide who are working directly with victims in criminal matters. Providing high quality research, writing, and strategic guidance to these attorneys and advocates ensures that victims everywhere can have the best advocacy possible.

NCVLI’s Annual Crime Victim Law Conference

NCVLI hosts the only national conference focusing on rights enforcement. The 2010 Conference will focus on securing fairness for crime victims. In law, fairness requires both procedural and substantive due process. This means that the law must be applied fairly to all, procedural safeguards must be afforded before a decision is taken that could affect a citizen’s right, and each person’s fundamental rights must be protected throughout the process.


Latest News and Updates in Victims’ Rights from NCVLI’s Bar Association, NAVRA:

NAVRA’s New and Noteworthy Cases in Victims’ Rights

NCVLI follows developments in victims’ rights laws across the country and summarizes recent cases affecting victims’ rights on a national scale.
[Summaries are copyrighted to NCVLI but are posted with permission here.]


Some recent cases include:

Ohio v. Clark, 135 S. Ct. 2173 (2015) & Elonis v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2001 (2015)

  • With the next United States Supreme Court term to begin in a few weeks, below are two cases decided by the Court during the last term that touch on/impact the adjudication of victims’ rights and interests.
  • Ohio v. Clark, 135 S. Ct. 2173 (2015). Defendant was convicted after a jury trial of multiple counts arising from the abuse of two child-victims, a 3-year old and an 18-month old.  Defendant appealed the trial court’s decision to allow the state to introduce the 3-year-old’s out-of-court statements to his preschool teachers—statements that identified defendant as the cause of his visible injuries—after the child-victim was deemed legally incompetent to testify under state law.  Defendant argued that the trial court violated the Confrontation Clause because the statements are “testimonial” under Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004),and its progeny. Finish reading the case summary here.
  • Elonis v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2001 (2015). Defendant was convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 875(c), which makes it a crime to transmit in interstate commerce “any communication containing any threat … to injure the person of another,” after he posted threats against his wife, police officers, the FBI, and Kindergartners on Facebook.  The jury instructions required that they find that defendant intentionally made a statement that a reasonable person would regard as a threat. Finish reading the case summary here.

State v. Skipwith, — A.3d —, No. 37501, 2015 WL 5009673 (Conn. App. Ct. Sept. 1, 2015)

  • Defendant struck and killed a woman while driving under the influence of alcohol.  Following a plea of nolo contendere to charges stemming from the incident, the trial court sentenced him to ten years’ imprisonment, execution suspended after two years, with three years’ probation.  The victim—the mother of the woman killed—sought a writ of error from the trial court’s dismissal of her motion to vacate defendant’s sentence, arguing that her state constitutional rights to be notified of the proposed plea disposition and sentencing and to be present had been violated.  Finish reading the case summary here.

Griffin v. Lindsey, — A.2d —, No. 88, 2015 WL 4627383 (Md. Aug. 4, 2015)

  • Defendants in the underlying criminal case were indicted for offenses relating to the shooting of the victim.  One of the defendants entered into a plea agreement that did not mention restitution and that contained a clause indicating that it represented “the full and complete agreement of the parties.”  The court accepted the plea and postponed defendant’s sentencing until a later date. Finish reading the case summary here.

Ostergren v. Iowa Dist. Ct. for Muscatine Cnty., 863 N.W.2d 294 (Iowa 2015)

  • The district court for Muscatine County, Iowa, issued an administrative order allowing persons protected by no-contact orders to petition the district court to terminate or modify such orders.  The order prescribed a formal procedure through which the protected person must deliver a letter to the court setting forth reasons for the request; the court would review the letter and the underlying criminal case file; the court would set a hearing on the matter giving notice to the county attorney, unless the state waives; and, if there were a hearing, the court would determine whether the defendant still poses a threat to the protected person’s safety. Finish reading the case summary here.

S. v. R., No. 14-FM-1006 (D.C. Mar. 26, 2015)

  • NCVLI participated in this proceeding as amicus curiae, along with co-amici Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project and Network for Victim Recovery of DC, arguing that civil protective orders such as the one issued in this case provide critical relief to sexual assault survivors and that vacate orders are not “extraordinary” in nature and are consistent with the remedial purposes of the civil protective order statutes.  Attorneys Leah Braimon, Aima Karass, Alyssa Scruggs, and Lauren Snyder of the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, provided pro bono services assisting with the preparation of the amicus brief.  Attorneys with the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP represented the victim.
  • S. v. R., No. 14-FM-1006 (D.C. Mar. 26, 2015).  Defendant was the building manager of and also lived in the apartment complex in which the victim lived.  Defendant drugged and raped the victim in his apartment.  The victim filed a petition for a civil protection order (CPO) alleging defendant had sexually assaulted her and requesting that the court order that he vacate his apartment.  The petition was granted.  Defendant asked the court to remove the requirement that he vacate the apartment.  The court denied defendant’s motion and defendant appealed, arguing that the court lacked statutory authority under the Intrafamily Offenses Act (IOA) to issue the order requiring him to vacate the apartment. Finish reading the case summary here.

Wiredu v. State, — A.3d —, 2015 WL 1500837 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Apr. 2, 2015)

  • Defendant was convicted of reckless driving, second-degree assault, indecent exposure, and public urination.  Defendant appealed, arguing, inter alia, that the court imposed an improper sentence when it ordered him to pay restitution to the victim’s wife for her lost wages.  Under Maryland law, the court held that restitution may be ordered for lost wages incurred by the victim of the offense but not for lost wages incurred by the spouse of a victim. Finish reading the case summary here.

Stegman v. United States, No. 14-2445-JWL, 2015 WL 728487 (D. Kan. Feb. 19, 2015)

  • An identity theft victim was notified by the United States government that her identity had been stolen and used to file federal income tax returns for tax years 2012 and 2013.  The investigation of the crime was on-going and no formal charges had yet been brought.  The victim, through written request, asked the government to provide her with information on the crime itself and the status of the investigation. Finish reading the case summary here.

Attorney Grievance Comm’n v. Smith, — A.3d —, 2015 WL 737412 (Md. Feb. 23, 2015)

  • Attorney Grievance Comm’n v. Smith, — A.3d —, 2015 WL 737412 (Md. Feb. 23, 2015).  The Attorney Grievance Commission (“Commission”), filed a Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action against a former assistant state’s attorney (ASA) alleging that he violated Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct (MLRPC) 1.3 (diligence), 3.3 (candor toward a tribunal), and 8.4(a), (c), and (d) (misconduct) when he failed to communicate at all with the victim or victim’s representative in a child sexual abuse case he prosecuted, which was an evasion of the former ASA’s constitutional and statutory obligations under the state’s victims’ rights laws.  A disciplinary hearing was held and the hearing judge concluded that the former ASA had violated MLRPC 1.3, but had not violated MLRPC 3.3 or 8.4. Finish reading the case summary here.

Annulli v. Warden, No. TSR-CV14-4005806-S (Conn. Super. Ct. Jan. 23, 2015)

  • James Clark and the Victim Rights Center of Connecticut, Inc., represented the victim in this case, arguing to protect the victim’s rights to protection and privacy during the habeas proceedings.
  • Mot. For Protective Orders for the Victim & Mem. of Decision, Annulli v. Warden, No. TSR-CV14-4005806-S (Conn. Super. Ct. Jan. 23, 2015).  Petitioner was convicted of sexual assault and subsequently petitioned for writ of habeas corpus. Finish reading the case summary here.

Winchell v. Beard, Case No. 34-3014-80001968 (Cal. Super. Ct. Jan. 30, 2015)

  • Winchell v. Beard, Case No. 34-3014-80001968 (Cal. Super. Ct. Jan. 30, 2015).  The petitioners, relatives of murder victims, petitioned the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to adopt lethal injection regulations that are in compliance with state and federal law, which CDCR denied.  Until such regulations are adopted, the convicted murderers of the victims cannot be executed.  The petitioners then sought a writ of mandate directing CDCR to promulgate such regulations. Finish reading the case summary here.

United States v. Galemmo, No 1:13-CR-141, 2014 WL 7340365 (S.D. Ohio Dec. 23, 2014) (slip copy)

  • Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in connection with a Ponzi scheme that defrauded 141 victims.  The plea agreement required defendant to forfeit certain property to the government, and defendant was also ordered to pay more than 34 million dollars in restitution to the victims. Finish reading the case summary here.