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The Interbranch Commission implements recommendations from the Report of The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee on Racial, and Gender Bias in The Justice System. View the Report

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victims Committee

Chaired by Lucille Marsh, Esq., the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victims Committee works to address the particular needs of these victims and improve the legal response to their unique situations. The Committee’s current priorities include:

  • creating a statewide framework to assist victims of human trafficking;
  • advocating for legislation to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault; and
  • conducting training sessions for judges and lawyers about this topic.

Assisting Victims of Human Trafficking: Several years ago, the Committee conducted a training session for law enforcement and prosecutors on the issue of commercial sex trafficking of juveniles in Pennsylvania. The Committee currently collaborates with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV), and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition to promote training on the issue, especially for judges, and is advocating for legislative changes to encourage prosecution of traffickers and support services for victims. The Commission is also working with prominent stakeholders in the field to develop a sheltering protocol for use, with local modifications, across Pennsylvania to address the immediate needs of victims of human trafficking.

Legislative Advocacy: The Committee has been working with lawmakers to draft and support legislation to combat “revenge pornography,” improve protection from abuse orders, stop the criminalization of victims of human trafficking, and reduce the backlog of untested rape kits.

Education and Training: The Committee’s first step toward its goal of educating the public about the nature of domestic violence was the publication of its pamphlet entitled Domestic Violence:  Safety Tips for You and Your Family. More than 100,000 copies of the pamphlet have been produced in both English and Spanish and distributed throughout the Commonwealth’s judicial offices and local police departments, among other locations. In addition, the Committee conducted training seminars for judges and court employees regarding the nuances of cultural issues in domestic violence and sexual assault cases. The Committee also conducted training sessions in conjunction with the publication of And Safety for All: A Guide for Making the Courts Safe for Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

The Committee’s past initiatives include:

  • advocating for the use of the Sexual Violence Benchbook, included at right under “Reports;”
  • conducting a study of safety procedures in courthouses and related facilities in domestic violence and sexual assault cases; and
  • other initiatives contained in Chapters Ten and Eleven of the Final Report of the Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Justice System.