Dec. 05, 2023 — The University of Houston Law Center raised awareness of domestic violence and equipped legal professionals with the skills to support survivors during the “Domestic Violence: Training Lawyers and Judges Through a Trauma-Informed Lens,” session attended by more than 300 individuals.
When a domestic violence homicide has been reported, physical and technological stalking has also played a predominant role. Technology, and technology in the law, is changing rapidly, noted the panelists.
“Something to keep in mind is the apps on your phone that reveal your location and whether you are sharing that information with a person that may be stalking you,” said Barbara Stalder in the panel on “Technology and Domestic Violence: How to Protect Your Clients.”
The Nov. 3 event delved into multiple topics such as the intersection of suffering and domestic violence, best practices for legal professionals and the importance of collaboration among different disciplines.
“Repeated reporting of trauma in different and difficult circumstances often cause inconsistencies,” said Judge Janet Heppard, a presenter in “Trauma and Witness Testimony — A Judge’s Perspective.” She added, “This has a lot to do with memory, and things flashing in and out of your client’s brain such that they can’t testify. The trauma is clear, but the surrounding details are absent or disjointed, and it comes out different each time they talk about it.”
The panel “Protective Order Statutory Changes and Impact on Your Case,” discussed changes seen due to updates in Title 4 of the Texas Family Code. Lawyers may now prove domestic violence with no obligation to prove the likelihood of violence in the future. Judge Damiane Dianne Curvey, Maisha Colter, Nora Law and Carolyn Robertson gave current impressions.
“By definition, family violence includes dating violence, it includes certain relationships, and it also includes people who have lived in the same household where violence has occurred, or the threat of violence has occurred,” Maisha Colter, CEO of Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, said. “It doesn’t have to actually be physical assault, but there is a fear factor as well.”
“One of our roles is to guide and advise. We have a duty to not just do what the client wants because sometimes that is not healthy, is not appropriate and is not something that the court should be used for …” added Colter.UH Law Center organized the training in partnership with AVDA, a 43-year Houston nonprofit, striving to end family violence through advocacy, support, and community response.
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