February 2019 Update
Greetings and happy February! Here are your regularly scheduled Pro Bono Program updates!

Our pro bono partners worked on several legal services cases, research projects, and other pro bono matters in January! We are grateful to Hogan Lovells LLP, Latham & Watkins LLP, and Williams & Connolly for taking on new legal cases and research projects!
Pro Bono Spotlight: Mary Beth Hickcox-Howard
Our pro bono attorneys have seen great results since the beginning of the fiscal year! In one notable victory, Mary Beth Hickcox-Howard of Williams & Connolly helped her client obtain an extension of her Civil Protection Order (CPO) after a trial, and more.

Jess* is a young mother who is devoted to her child. She may seem quiet, but she never hesitates to take any steps needed to keep herself and her child safe. Jess ended her relationship with her child's father, Sam*, who abused Jess physically, sexually, and verbally in front of their child. Most recently, NVRDC and Mary Beth helped Jess ask the court to extend the CPO protecting Jess and her child from Sam. But Sam used the process to ask the court to order Jess's child to visit Sam's family. After an emotionally challenging trial, the court denied Sam's request for a modification and granted Jess's request for an extension for the full twelve months.

But, Mary Beth's advocacy did not end there. Jess continued to receive communications from Sam from prison, where he is serving a sentence for abusing Jess. So, NVRDC and Mary Beth worked with the U.S. Attorney's Office, and successfully advocated for the prison to restrict Sam's mail privileges. As a result, Jess is free from Sam disrupting her peace of mind through prohibited communications.

Jess and her child still have to take careful steps to keep safe, but they are relieved to have the protections of a CPO for the next year.  

*Names have been changed for privacy. 
“NVRDC continues to support its clients long after the criminal cases against their abusers are over, helping ensure that they are able to move forward with their lives free from threats or harassment. As part of that work, NVRDC provides incredible opportunities for pro bono counsel to hone their advocacy skills while making a difference in someone’s life. A contested hearing gave me the opportunity to examine witnesses, get documents into evidence, and make a closing argument. But what I will carry with me from this case is my client’s bravery in facing her abuser in court to testify against him.” ~ Mary Beth Hickcox-Howard, associate attorney at Williams & Connolly
Policy Update
In November, U.S. Department of Education issued  proposed rules  for how schools must handle sexual violence under Title IX. These rules—if passed—would be harmful to student survivors and would make campuses more dangerous. Legally, the Department of Education had to go through a process known as "notice-and-comment," which allows members of the public to voice their opinions on the Department's proposed rules.

Since 2012, NVRDC has advocated for the protection of crime victim rights, including the rights of student-survivors in Title IX proceedings. NVRDC’s comment to the Department of Education enumerates proposed changes and considerations that advocate for a Title IX system that will follow its intended mandate—to protect the rights of all parties to have equal access to education—and promote effectiveness and transparency in its implementation.

NVRDC owes special thanks to Amy Lentz, partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP , for her invaluable pro bono assistance with drafting NVRDC's Comment. Click here to view it!
As always, if you have any questions about NVRDC's pro bono program, including inquiries about volunteer, training, shadowing, or research opportunities, please reach out to Alex Scott, Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney, at probono@nvrdc.org . Thank you!