Power Act CLE – August 19, 2022

On August 19, 2022, Arkansas Access to Justice hosted the 2022 Power Act CLE in  conjunction with the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western districts of Arkansas at the John Paul Hammerschmidt Federal Building in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This free three hour CLE drew both in-person and streaming participants and focused on how attorneys can provide compassionate and effective representation to survivors of domestic violence.

This CLE has been presented annually since the POWER Act was originally signed into law in 2018. The purpose of the act is to raise awareness and help combat domestic violence and sexual assault by encouraging members of the legal profession to offer pro bono legal services to survivors.

Attendees heard from Legal Aid of Arkansas attorney and Pro Bono Director, Ashley Norman. Ms. Norman laid out shocking statistics that set the stage for the rest of the presentation, such as the fact that according to the CDC, in 2011, more than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Ms. Norman broke down the Domestic Abuse Act for attendees and gave substantive pointers and best practice tips for filing orders of protection. Ms. Norman also explained the cycle of abuse and the reasons so many domestic abuse survivors struggle to leave their abuser.

Part two of the POWER Act program was entitled, The Trauma-Informed Attorney and was presented by licensed clinical social worker Lisa Southerland, who is currently a residential social worker with Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. Ms. Southerland’s presentation focused on how trauma affects the brain, the behaviors that may be manifestations of trauma, and what attorneys can do to protect their clients from being retraumatized. Ms. Southerland also covered the topics of vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue. Finally, she discussed the many mental health services available to both clients and attorneys.

In the final hour, a panel moderated by Judge Barry Bryant discussed Title 18 U.S.C. Section 3142, which is the process for holding detention hearings in Federal Court; in particular, the part of that section pertaining to the domestic circumstances of the defendant and their family. The panelists included Kim Harris, Deputy Criminal Chief and Ethics Advisor for the Western District of Arkansas; Bruce D. Eddy, Federal Defender for the Western District of Arkansas; Travis Morrissey, criminal defense attorney; and Amanda Jordan, United States Probation Officer Specialist for the Western District of Arkansas.

This impactful CLE had an excellent turnout both in person and online, with a little over 200 attendees in all.

To learn how you can offer pro bono services to survivors of domestic violence, with support from legal aid organizations, go to arkansasjustice.org/volunteer.

The recording of this CLE is available on our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi5UZSC_Nks.

We would like to give a special thank you Arkansas Appleseed, AR National Lawyers Guild, The Center for Arkansas Legal Services, and Legal Aid of Arkansas for their help in promoting this event!