For the purpose of studying the nature, extent and consequences of unmet legal needs of survivors of domestic violence, a measure sponsored by Assemblywomen Carol Murphy and Gabriela Mosquera establishing the “New Jersey Domestic Violence and Legal Access Task Force” cleared the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday.
“We already know that survivors of domestic abuse consider restraining orders to be among the most effective tools in stopping the abuse,” said Murphy (D-Burlington). “We also know that victims represented by an attorney are more than two-and-a-half times more likely to obtain this restraining order than those without an attorney. There is, however, much we don’t know about the legal plight of domestic violence survivors. This task force will be instrumental in helping us learn exactly how we can better defend some of New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents.”
The measure (AJR-115) would establish a 16-member task, which would be required to submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature within 18 months of its organization on their findings.
The membership of the commission would be as follows:
? two public members appointed by the Governor, one of whom is a representative of a pro bono program organized by a law firm located in the State, and one of whom is a State resident who has been a pro se litigant who has appeared as a plaintiff in a domestic violence matter in the New Jersey State courts;
? two public members appointed by the President of the Senate, one of whom is the representative of a non-profit organization dedicated to the services and assistance of victims of domestic violence and one of whom is a State licensed and certified family law attorney;
? two public members appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly, one of whom is a director of a legal clinic program of a law school located in the State and one of whom is a State resident who has been a pro se litigant who has appeared as a defendant in a domestic violence matter in the New Jersey State court;
? one member appointed by the Chief Justice, who is a retired judge of the Superior Court assigned to the Family Division;
? the director of the Administrative Office of the Courts;
? the Public Defender, or the Public Defender’s designee;
? the Attorney General, or the Attorney General’s designee;
? the dean of Seton Hall University School of Law, or the dean’s designee;
? the co-dean of Rutgers Law School Newark Campus, or the co-dean’s designee;
? the co-dean of Rutgers Law School Camden Campus, or the co-dean’s designee;
? the executive director of New Jersey Legal Services, or the executive director’s designee.
? A representative of the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence, and;
? A representative of Partners for Women and Justice
“Survivors of domestic violence have already experienced significant trauma and hardship; to expect them to be able to advocate for themselves effectively in court is simply too much to ask,” said Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester). “By taking a close look at this issue, we can come up comprehensive solutions that will help survivors get the justice they deserve.”
The measure now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.