First, Do No Harm: Facilitating a Trauma-Informed Response

Trauma is a direct result of the abuse and exploitation that offenders inflict on victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. This acute trauma, often compounded with historical trauma, impacts survivor’s ability to fully participate in the criminal justice process. As a result, a collaborative, trauma-informed response that takes historical context into consideration is essential to ensuring survivor access to justice while improving community safety.

This presentation describes various forms of trauma that victims may experience throughout their lives and as a result of an offender’s victimization. Presenters define cultural humility as a key element of a successful trauma-informed response that improves our individual, collective, and systematic responses to survivors. Additionally, the presenters provide strategies to identify, document, and introduce evidence of trauma to improve case outcomes and community safety by holding offenders accountable.

At the conclusion of this training, participants will be better able to:

• Identify signs and symptoms of trauma, and implement trauma-informed practices

• Enhance victim safety, privacy, autonomy, and participation through collaboration with allied professionals

• Practice cultural humility while preparing cases to proceed, regardless of a victim’s ability to participate in the process

Digital Evidence Part I: The Investigative Stage — Recognition, Collection, Search

This two-part webinar series presented by the Denver District Attorney’s Office, in partnership with AEquitas, explores the scope of data available from sources of digital evidence and strategies on how such data can effectively be developed with forensically-sound practices. Presenters discuss theories of admission, rules of evidence, and “real life” examples to demonstrate how to properly authenticate and introduce digital evidence in court proceedings. Part I of the series explores the different types and sources of electronic data that are available to investigators; how such data can be properly collected, regardless of whether it is in a physical device or electronic records; and methods to facilitate searching and seizing data.

Funding Opportunity: Innovative Prosecution Solutions FY’20

The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) will be offering funding to state and local prosecutor’s offices for its FY’20 Innovative Prosecution Solutions for Combating Violent Crime (IPS) initiative. The IPS program supports prosecutor-led strategies for responding to violent crime and enhancing public safety.

Join BJA and AEquitas, the lead Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) provider on the IPS initiative, for a webinar on the upcoming solicitation. It will include a discussion of application eligibility and the application process, program requirements, and examples of previously successful proposals.

Justice in the Time of COVID-19: Strategic Responses

Social distancing and quarantine measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have affected all aspects of our society, including the judicial system. While these public health measures are necessary to keep our communities safe and healthy, court closures and subsequent delays in case processing, as well as other social distancing measures, will require criminal justice professionals to adapt in order to continue holding offenders accountable while protecting their rights; meeting victim/witness needs; and maintaining public safety.

This panel discussion, featuring Nancy O’Malley, District Attorney of Alameda County, CA; Ed McCann, First Assistant District Attorney of Montgomery County, PA; and Sherry Boston, District Attorney of DeKalb County, GA, as well as AEquitas Attorney Advisors, will provide practical perspectives to help guide prosecutors and other criminal justice system actors through the broad scope of issues raised by COVID-19; current responses from prosecutor’s offices around the country; and logistical and legal strategies for ensuring justice while social distancing measures remain in place. Topics will include (but aren’t limited to) implications on constitutional and statutory rights; challenges in processing, collecting, and testing crucial evidence; jail overcrowding and requests for bail; and the continuity of victim/witness services.

The Prosecutors’ Resource on Elder Abuse

This Prosecutors’ Resource is designed to assist with investigating and prosecuting cases involving abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of an older victim. It includes foundational knowledge on the various forms and co-occurrence of elder abuse crimes, the characteristics of victims and perpetrators, the aging body, and issues of competency and capacity that will all inform prosecutors’ decision-making in cases and interactions with victims. This Prosecutors’ Resource also provides prosecution strategies for working with older victims and addresses the individual steps and considerations for prosecuting elder abuse cases from the initial interview and investigation through sentencing.


AEquitas: Established to Promote Justice in Violence Against Women Prosecution

The criminal justice system is a critical resource for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and dating violence. As experienced prosecutors recognize, the concept of justice must also consider the victim’s safety, experience, and perspective. In order to provide the nation’s prosecutors with the support, information, training, mentorship, and resources necessary to objectively evaluate and constantly refine the prosecution of violence against women, several former prosecutors, a forensic nurse, and two national technical assistance providers created AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women.


Williams v. Illinois and Forensic Evidence – The Bleeding Edge of Crawford

The application of Crawford principles in the context of forensic evidence continues to plague the criminal justice system. The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Williams v. Illinois raises more questions than it answers about when and how an expert may testify to conclusions based upon the opinions or work of other (non-testifying) experts or technicians. This article reviews the relevant case law, and explores how trial prosecutors can present a case involving forensic testing conducted by a multitude of technicians and experts. It also addresses Williams’ impact on cold cases, in which original experts who performed autopsies and other forensic examinations and testing are no longer available for trial. The author provides practical suggestions to trial prosecutors who must balance limited resources against the need to secure convictions that will withstand confrontation challenges on appeal.


The Prosecutors’ Resource on Crawford and its Progeny

There are many barriers to victims’ participation in the prosecution of their abusers. When prosecuting a domestic violence case with a non-participating victim (one who either is not in court, or who is in court but is unavailable by reason of refusal to testify, exercise of a privilege, illness, or incompetency) the prosecutor must anticipate a challenge under Crawford v. Washington to the introduction of the victim’s out-of-court statements. Crawford and its progeny are landmark cases that address the admissibility of out-of-court statements in light of an accused’s Sixth Amendment right to confrontation. This Resource focuses on interpretations of the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause under Crawford. The prosecutor must be aware, however, of the simultaneous need to satisfy state evidence rules concerning hearsay. This paper places Crawford in its historical context, presents a framework for analyzing admissibility of out-of-court statements under the Crawford rules, and provides resources, sample questions, and strategy suggestions to assist the prosecutor in satisfying the confrontation requirements under the Sixth Amendment.


The Prosecutors’ Resource on Witness Intimidation

This resource outlines effective prosecution strategies for cases where witness intimidation is, or may be, a factor. It provides guidance for prosecution practices that will enhance the safety of victims and witnesses. The paper discusses the first steps a prosecutor should take upon being assigned a case in which witness intimidation is, or may be, an issue. It then discusses strategies for the various phases of a criminal prosecution, from pretrial through the final pretrial conference. Finally, the paper discusses sentencing considerations, including the need for appropriate post-release conditions that enhance the ongoing safety of victims and witnesses.


Witness Intimidation – Meeting the Challenge

Witness intimidation can hinder the investigation and prosecution of any criminal case, but it presents predictable challenges in certain categories of crime. Where the defendant has a pre-existing relationship with the victim, or in cases involving gangs or organized crime, the defendant often has the ability, directly or indirectly, to continue to inflict harm upon, or to exercise influence over, the victim or witness long after the precipitating criminal act. This monograph explores the form of witness intimidation, offers strategies to prevent and minimize its effects, suggests trial strategies for cases involving witness intimidation, including the use of forfeiture by wrongdoing as a means of admitting hearsay statements where a defendant has caused a witness’s unavailability for trial.