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senate Bill S. 717

Should U.S. Attorneys’ Offices Promote Pro Bono Legal Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault?

Argument in favor

Lack of financial resources shouldn’t be an impediment to domestic violence survivors’ efforts to leave their abusers. The civil legal system is complicated, and having an attorney significantly improves survivors’ odds of success in court. In the absence of public defenders, pro bono legal services — while imperfect — are better than no legal services at all.

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07/17/2018
This would be so unbelievably helpful for survivors of abuse. It is SO difficult to leave an abuser, especially if they have control of the finances. This could save A LOT of people.
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Jennifer 's Opinion
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07/18/2018
Over a 9 yr period I directed DV/SA shelter programs, and applaud the legislator’s intent. Although, it only “promotes,” pro bono services, its intent is a good one. Women not only lack proper legal representation—most have only shelter advocates as support and often face off against a partner who has obtained an attorney—in obtaining protective orders. But their greatest fear is losing custody of their children. Uneducated judges often then allow “visitation,” with no requirements for safety. Or sometimes with a sorrowful partner and their attorney suggesting couples counseling—it becomes an even more unsafe mandate used against the DV survivor, and often does more harm than good. But, here is why I voted yeah! I would add, yeah, only if those lawyers representing the DV survivor have received an initial training on the dynamics and the pitfalls to avoid when facing off against a batterer. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. It’s a start in providing a much needed resource to s very underserved population. Please consider these amendments.
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SneakyPete's Opinion
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07/17/2018
“PRO BONO LEGAL SERVICES” It’s my opinion that this legislation should be passed by unanimous consent very quickly. Lack of financial resources shouldn’t be an impediment to domestic violence survivors’ efforts to leave their abusers. The civil legal system is complicated, and having an attorney significantly improves survivors’ odds of success in court. In the absence of public defenders, pro bono legal services — while imperfect — are better than no legal services at all. 7*17*18 ........
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Argument opposed

Pro bono legal assistance, while well-intentioned, may not meet survivors’ needs. Domestic violence is a dangerous situation, and involving volunteers who may not be adequately trained in crisis response in survivors’ efforts to extricate themselves from their situation may put both volunteer attorneys and survivors in danger.

Dicr's Opinion
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07/17/2018
You have to look closely at any legislation republicans bring to the floor. This sounds great but really doesn’t provide for anything more than a little guidance that may or may not be beneficial to a victim. This bill should have more “teeth”.
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Jane's Opinion
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07/17/2018
I struggle with this one........I was in an abusive relationship for 10 years. Truly the lowest point of my life. But I got myself in to it, then I got myself out. That being said, not once did I feel like someone else should pay for the mistake I made. The other issue with this is the problem of being able to prove abuse, law enforcement is still on a slippery slope when having to deal with domestic abuse. I can see this costing far too much of our tax dollars. If this was set up to protect just children of abuse I would be all over it but, adults need to take care of themselves.
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tituswife's Opinion
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07/17/2018
This bill is discriminatory, since it will only serve women. Have courage senators. #NoMoreVoiceVotes
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bill Progress


  • EnactedSeptember 4th, 2018
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The house Passed July 17th, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
  • The senate Passed August 1st, 2017
    Passed by Voice Vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedMarch 23rd, 2017

Log in or create an account to see how your Reps voted!
    This would be so unbelievably helpful for survivors of abuse. It is SO difficult to leave an abuser, especially if they have control of the finances. This could save A LOT of people.
    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
    You have to look closely at any legislation republicans bring to the floor. This sounds great but really doesn’t provide for anything more than a little guidance that may or may not be beneficial to a victim. This bill should have more “teeth”.
    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
    Over a 9 yr period I directed DV/SA shelter programs, and applaud the legislator’s intent. Although, it only “promotes,” pro bono services, its intent is a good one. Women not only lack proper legal representation—most have only shelter advocates as support and often face off against a partner who has obtained an attorney—in obtaining protective orders. But their greatest fear is losing custody of their children. Uneducated judges often then allow “visitation,” with no requirements for safety. Or sometimes with a sorrowful partner and their attorney suggesting couples counseling—it becomes an even more unsafe mandate used against the DV survivor, and often does more harm than good. But, here is why I voted yeah! I would add, yeah, only if those lawyers representing the DV survivor have received an initial training on the dynamics and the pitfalls to avoid when facing off against a batterer. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. It’s a start in providing a much needed resource to s very underserved population. Please consider these amendments.
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    I struggle with this one........I was in an abusive relationship for 10 years. Truly the lowest point of my life. But I got myself in to it, then I got myself out. That being said, not once did I feel like someone else should pay for the mistake I made. The other issue with this is the problem of being able to prove abuse, law enforcement is still on a slippery slope when having to deal with domestic abuse. I can see this costing far too much of our tax dollars. If this was set up to protect just children of abuse I would be all over it but, adults need to take care of themselves.
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    “PRO BONO LEGAL SERVICES” It’s my opinion that this legislation should be passed by unanimous consent very quickly. Lack of financial resources shouldn’t be an impediment to domestic violence survivors’ efforts to leave their abusers. The civil legal system is complicated, and having an attorney significantly improves survivors’ odds of success in court. In the absence of public defenders, pro bono legal services — while imperfect — are better than no legal services at all. 7*17*18 ........
    Like (7)
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    Please support survivors of abuse and sexual assault! To many abusers and rapists go unpunished because the victims can’t afford to take legal action. Please protect these survivors!
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    There are millions of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault each year. Their traumas reverberate through families and impact children. The legal system should not be mystifying and inaccessible to them; instead, it should be a tool to protect themselves and others and begin healing. Pro bono legal services can be an important part of that process.
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    They should promote any pro bono services they offer. Money should never hinder or be an issue for anyone seeking legal services.
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    Yes but not just under these circumstances but all. Pro Bono services should be reformed to meet every need. Legal services are just as horrible in this country as healthcare is right now. Both need to be fixed as of yesterday. You shouldn't have to be rich to afford either.
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    They are victims! Why would one not make pro bono services available? Perhaps 1 of those “ services” strengthens self-respect/survival?
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    We don’t know based on this blurb whether the bill does anything to address the shortfall of Pro bono legal services for women who need them. Merely “promoting” counsel without providing funding to meet the demand is merely lip service.
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    It’s start in a much needed area. This is more than what’s available now.
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    This works when she/he leaves the partner and he/she faces financial hardship that's not his/her fault.
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    Republican sponsorship automatically makes it suspect. That said, quality legal work provided pro bono for domestic violence survivors is essential. Leaving an abuser is dangerous to do. Survivors often don’t have the resources necessary to pay for quality legal representation on top of the other expenses and stress of leaving. Pro bono work is something they definitely need.
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    I’m confused. Do DAs charge victims?!
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    As always another good thing to provide to those that may need it but once again its something this nation can ill afford. We are 21 TRILLION in DEBT! Everyone but the GOP Freedom caucus doesn’t seem to get it. The debt is a ticking time bomb that will change our lives and those of of our children and their children for the worse for many years. There are lots of good things besides this that our government can pay but isn’t it time we actually balance a budget and make the hard decisions regarding our spending. After all this nation has a huge SPENDING problem and our legislators don’t know how to say NO! Things like this should be privately funded versus forcing everyone to pay into the government. The government should not be a charitable funds distributor but that is what it has become. It steals money from those that EARN it then distribute it to those who don’t.
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    This bill is discriminatory, since it will only serve women. Have courage senators. #NoMoreVoiceVotes
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    No
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    Even though pro bono legal services are not the best kind of services that are available to victims, I think that this will definitely help to ensure that victims of sexual assault receive the legal assistance that they need.
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    Please make effort to get issue passed
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