Helping Crime Victims Pursue Civil Justice

The NCVBA provides technical support to attorneys representing crime victims in civil actions, refers crime victims to lawyers in their local area, and works to increase general awareness about the availability of civil remedies for victims of crime.


2017 NCVBA National Conference

December 5 - 7
Portland, OR

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The National Crime Victim Bar Association (NCVBA) National Conference, “Civil Actions for Criminal Acts,” provides essential, cutting-edge information on current legal subjects, as well as offers important resources and litigation strategies that attorneys need to best represent crime victims. Held in conjunction with the National Training Institute of the National Center for Victims of Crime, this annual gathering brings together up to 1,000 victim advocates, civil attorneys, criminal justice professionals, and law enforcement officers to share their knowledge and experience across disciplines.


Monday, December 4th, 2017

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.                Early Registration

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.                Welcome Reception for Speakers and Members

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

7:00 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.                Amicus Committee Meeting

8:30 a.m.  – 10:00 a.m.             Opening Plenary

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.             Break

10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.             Brad Edwards – High Profile Litigation: Celebrity Defendants

Case Presentation of Priscilla Rainey v. Jayceon Terrell Taylor a/k/a The Game, highlighting: 1) the difficulties of trying a sexual abuse case against a famous individual, 2) the difficulties of trying a case arising during the filming of a reality television show, 3) the impact that social media can have in a jury trial, 4) the most effective way to educate the jury about how there is no “perfect” victim reaction, and 5) how to present damages to a jury in a civil sexual abuse case.

11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.             Meg Garvin – Strategic Litigation to Advance Crime Victims’ Rights

Using real case examples, this presentation will discuss how strategic litigation of crime victims’ rights in civil and criminal cases has furthered development and use of civil rights and remedies for crime victims.  Examples will include rape shield laws, financial recovery, and discovery disputes.

11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.             Luncheon

1:00 p.m. – 1:50 p.m.                Afternoon Plenary

1:50 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.                Break

2:00 p.m. – 2: 45 p.m.               Jeff Anderson

2:45 p.m. – 3: 30 p.m.               Donna Maddux – Maximizing the Criminal Prosecutor & Victim Attorney Relationship

This session will cover:

  • how prosecutors and civil attorneys can effectively work together;
  • the limitations that exist in the mutual exchange of information;
  • victims’ attorneys role in each stage of a criminal case;
  • use of case studies and examples.

3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.                Break

3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.                Mike Haggard – Do Governments Have Responsibility for the Bad Guys under Their Watch?

Do governments have a responsibility to properly and reasonably supervise parolees and persons who have been released on bail and awaiting trial? Many think that question should be answered in the affirmative. However, various states and jurisdictions across the United States prohibit victims of subsequent crimes committed by these persons from recovering for the government’s negligent supervision of these persons. This presentation seeks to discuss the various laws across the United States and what it means for victims of crimes committed by these persons.

4:30 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.                Ray Boucher – Holding Chowchilla Kidnappers Accountable: 40 Years Later

On July 15, 1976, three masked men hijacked a public school bus at gunpoint and abducted all 26 school children on board and their bus driver near Chowchilla, California, as part of a conspiracy and scheme between the men - Richard Allen Schoenfeld, his brother James Leonard Schoenfeld, and Frederick Newhall Woods - to obtain millions in ransom money in exchange for the release of the young children. Approximately 28 hours from the inception of the nightmarish ordeal, the victims escaped, returning to a world stunned by their vanishing. All three men were found, pled guilty to 27 felony counts of kidnapping for ransom. 40 years later, after the Schoenfeld brothers were released on parole, several of the survivors held these men civilly accountable for the great harms they suffered and continue to suffer.

5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.                    Focus group

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

 7:00 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.                ARS Committee Meeting

7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.                Continental Breakfast

8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.              Morning Plenary: Litigation

The victims, attorneys, and advocates involved in ongoing litigation against Backpage share their stories and discuss what needs to be done to prevent child sex trafficking in the future.

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.             Break

10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.             Chris Wilson – Three Things You Need to Know About the Brain During Sexual Assault

This talk will focus on three brain-based realities for victims of sexual assault that will help attorneys understand why most victims respond without fighting or fleeing. Specifically, we will cover the role of defense circuitry, the impact of an offender known to a victim, and how this often creates circuitry conflict, and three extreme survival reflexes that often dictate reaction to the assault.

11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.             Michael Dolce – Proving What Cannot be Seen - Simple, Yet Compelling Ways to Prove the Full and Lasting Emotional and Developmental Impact of Child Abuse on Survivors

The most profound and lasting injuries from child abuse are emotional and mental health injuries.

These are injuries that cannot be seen or appreciated on such things as an MRI or X-Ray, obviously.

Effective advocacy for child abuse victims requires knowing how to make judges, juries, politicians and others see, feel and have empathy for what cannot be seen. as well as understanding that time does not heal all wounds. This presentation will illustrate how to do so using simple, but compelling methods that judges, juries and politicians can relate to. The presentation will focus on doing so on a case-by-case basis, taking advantage of the specific developmental and historical background of an affected child or adult survivor. Real litigation case examples and testimony, as well as political advocacy examples, will support the presentation.

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.             Break

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.              National Crime Victim Bar Association Awards Luncheon

1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.                Robert Glassman – Claiming PTSD Damages at Trial

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that a person may develop after experiencing or witnessing an extreme, overwhelming traumatic event during which they felt intense fear, helplessness, or horror. PTSD is a complicated psychological disorder and plaintiffs in tort litigation will have difficulty making this kind of claim without supporting testimony and evidence at trial. This presentation discusses on the role of how evidence, including expert witness testimony, functions to prove a plaintiff’s PTSD at trial.

2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.                Dave Ring – Consent in Civil Sexual Abuse Cases

Matters of consent in civil sexual abuse cases (both children and adults) will be discussed. Topics include the following:

  • Consent as an affirmative defense in civil sexual assault cases
  • Can children consent? Does that always apply in civil cases?
  • Does actual consent mitigate damages?
  • Victims of drug-facilitated rapes lacking capacity to consent
  • Person with cognitive disabilities lacking capacity to consent

3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.               Michael Cohen, Erin Olson, & Rebecca Roe - Panel: Creative Collections and Recovery Strategies

Crime victims can be victimized twice— first by the criminal, then by an insufficient recovery in subsequent civil action. Civil defendants who might be responsible for having contributed to the crime— for example, for failing to maintain adequate security, or for failing to conduct a sufficient background investigation of an employee, etc.— often have no means to satisfy a judgement other than insurance. But the insurance might not provide the coverage the defendant thought it bought. This presentation will introduce the audience to the basics of a claim for negligence against an insurance agent or broker. This presentation will also introduce the audience to legal and strategic challenges attorneys are likely to face in any such action.

3:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.                Break

4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.                Case Workshop

5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.                Advisory Board meeting

Offers members an opportunity to present an issue or case to a group of experienced litigators for suggestions and feedback.

Thursday, December 7th, 2017 (Moderator: Keith Franz)

7:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.                Continental Breakfast

8:00 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.                Mike Finnegan - Empowering Crime Victims, Even When We Can't Represent Them (ETHICS)

Mike Finnegan will present on how to empower survivors and crime victims through their contacts with you and those who work with you. This is critical both for survivors you represent and those you decline. Often crime victims tell us their secrets for the first time. How we treat them can give them power back as well as have a profound impact on how communities, including jury pools, view lawyers.

8:45 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.                Gary Gwilliam – Getting a Winning Verdict in Your Personal Life (ETHICS)

A discussion of how to deal with stress and avoid over use of alcohol. Also, a personal discussion of my experience as a trial lawyer for many years relating to how to have balance in our lives, avoid workaholism, and find enjoyment in our work lives. Based on my book “Getting a Winning Verdict in My Personal Life- A Trial Lawyer Finds His Soul.”

9:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.              Carrie Goldberg associate – Sextortion 101 – The Newest Cyber Crime That’s Destroying Lives

Sextortion is a vicious form of online abuse that involves offenders coercing victims to perform sexual acts – often on camera – under the threat of exposing something humiliating about them. Offenders frequently target multiple victims, often children under the age of 18, but we also see it used in intimate partner abuse resulting in individuals being forced to stay in abusive relationships. It is a cyber-crime that is a product of the digital age. This presentation will cover the tactics abusers use to manipulate their targets, law enforcement’s response, and how victims can fight back.

10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.             Monica Beck – Representing Survivors of K-12 School Sexual Violence

The prevalence of sexual violence against students at elementary, middle, and high school is occurring with alarming frequency and is far too often overlooked. This presentation will focus on achieving justice through the civil legal process for K-12 students who have been sexually abused by school employees, volunteers, or fellow students. Topics discussed will include claims that may be brought on behalf of survivors against schools and school employees, common legal hurdles, and obtaining resolution for clients. The presenters will utilize examples from three recent federal lawsuits they brought on behalf of children who are survivors of school-place sexual violence.

11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.             Panel: Negotiation Tips and Settlement Strategies – Mary Alexander & Phil Gerson

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.             Closing Plenary