Continued from Frontline Spring 2012...
SALI is one of the only legal services programs in the country that is devoted to serving sexual assault survivors. Original staff included one attorney, a part-time director, and a paralegal; since then it has grown to include five attorneys and two advocates. Interns regularly accept placements at SALI, with one to two summer interns working full-time and as many as five interns working part-time during the school year.
Since SALI opened, over 1300 survivors of sexual assault and abuse have received direct legal services. These services include representation and/or advice in family law cases, protective and peace orders, immigration applications, employment claims, school issues, and crime victims’ rights. To supplement SALI staff, a “low bono” program based on MLSC’s Contested Child Custody Project was created. This program provides $50 per hour (up to $1000) for private attorneys providing representation to survivors. Currently this list has 41 private attorneys willing and competent at providing legal help to survivors. To assist these attorneys, SALI published the SALI Maryland Sexual Assault Law Manual. This 14-chapter, practitioner-oriented legal manual covers legal and strategic issues arising in sexual assault cases.
Outside of directly caring for the legal needs of survivors, SALI has produced brochures, booklets, and manuals to assist survivors, parents of survivors, and other professionals. One of these brochures, Identifying Legal Issues for Victims of Sexual Assault: A Checklist for Survivors (2004) was translated into Spanish in 2008. Over 20,000 checklists have been distributed.
SALI has also created two guides relating to child sexual abuse and the court system: Understanding the Legal System When Your Child Has Been Sexually Abused, a 32 page booklet providing information about child protective services cases, criminal prosecution, civil tort, immigration issues, divorce & custody, child advocacy centers, and physical and emotional effects of child sexual abuse and Child Sexual Abuse: A Guide for Children’s Attorneys and Other Court Professionals, a companion guide for professionals.
SALI also provides training to professionals to further education about survivors’ legal needs. SALI has helped train approximately 3400 professionals and others working with survivors, including victim advocates, prosecutors, legal services and private attorneys, nurses, law enforcement, college peer advocates, counselors, and other mental health professionals.
SALI is committed to caring for the legal needs of sexual assault survivors. If you are interested in any of the services SALI provides, please do not hesitate to contact us at 301-565-2277.
By: Lisae C. Jordan, Esq. and Ellen C. Opdyke, Esq. Ms. Jordan serves as MCASA’s General Counsel and Director of the Sexual Assault Legal Institute (SALI). Ms. Opdyke serves as the Supervising Attorney at SALI.
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