Hogan Lovells assists Network for Victim Recovery of DC to advocate for crime victims' rights during COVID-19
Washington D.C., 19 May 2020 – Global law firm Hogan Lovells partnered with the Network for Victim Recovery of DC to help protect the rights of those in the District who have suffered from crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
The challenges brought on by COVID-19 have made the strain on our legal system even greater, and NVRDC recognized quickly that survivors of crimes might be forgotten as legislators move quickly to try to ensure the health and safety of detainees. So Hogan Lovells advocated to the DC Superior Court on behalf of NVRDC asking the court to amend its order establishing procedures for defendants requesting early release from prison during the pandemic because it did not reflect the requirements of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, which include a victims’ right to notice and to be reasonably heard.
As a result of the firm’s efforts, the court added language to its guidelines that give victims the opportunity to voice their opinion if someone in prison for abusing or stalking them requests early release, and allows the victim to actively prepare themselves should that request be granted.
Additionally, in response to a lawsuit requesting certain misdemeanor defendants be released from prison, the firm assisted NVRDC with filing an amicus brief advocating instead for a case-by-case approach, especially in cases where a defendant has been convicted of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
“Since our inception, NVRDC’s advocacy for crime victims’ rights has centered around the philosophy that the criminal legal system is not a zero sum game,” said Bridgette Stumpf, Executive Director of NVRDC. “Hogan Lovells’ swift and efficient work allowed us to make sure courts and other public officials respect the humanity and well-being of all residents as they work to protect the city from this virus.”
“We are grateful that NVRDC gave us the opportunity to work on this matter, and that the court agreed to amend its order to include victim notification provisions if an offender has submitted an emergency motion for early release,” said Senior Pro Bono Attorney Blair Decker. “In confusing and rapidly changing times such as these, it is often the most vulnerable who are forgotten and put at greater risk, particularly when it comes to those who have suffered domestic violence and sexual abuse.”
The Hogan Lovells team was led by partner Allison Holt Ryan, Decker, senior associate Kaitlyn Golden, and associate Toccara Nelson.