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Conference explores new era of domestic violence prosecution

November 18, 2010

Leaders on the frontlines of domestic violence prosecutions in Arizona and national scholars in criminal law will discuss new challenges and potential solutions in the field during a conference on Nov. 19, at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

“Domestic Violence Prosecutions: A Fresh Look at Routine Responses” is scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. in the Great Hall of Armstrong Hall on the ASU Tempe campus.

The conference’s host is the Diane Halle Center for Family Justice, which was established this fall at the law school to promote the well-being and protect the human rights of children and families through multi-disciplinary initiatives in education, advocacy and scholarship. The Center’s Faculty Director, Sarah Buel, herself a domestic-violence survivor, former prosecutor and national leader in programming that aid battered women and children, will be seated on the conference’s community leaders panel.

“This is an opportunity to engage scholars and practitioners in strategizing next steps in the complex and controversial practices involving the criminalization of domestic violence,” Buel said.

In addition, the program will include a discussion among law professors who research and write about domestic violence, and a question-and-answer session at the end of the day.

Conference co-organizer Carissa Byrne Hessick, an associate professor at the College of Law, said the event is a unique opportunity for prosecutors and academics to address issues that didn’t exist nearly four decades ago when society first began talking about violence in the home.

“We’re in a new stage of academic work in this field,” Hessick said. “Scholars today are being more searching in their review about whether the modern tactics of domestic-violence prosecutions are particularly effective.”

The community panel also will be represented by a victims’ rights advocate and prosecutors from local and federal governments.

“Especially in Arizona,” Hessick said, “It’s important to remember that the prosecution of domestic violence on tribal lands is uniquely problematic, and therefore, ASU is an ideal place to take a look at those challenges.”

Panelists are:

• Jane Aiken, Professor and Director of the Community Justice Project at Georgetown University Law Center
• Melissa Murray, Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law – Boalt Hall.
• Aya Gruber, Professor at the University of Colorado Law School
• Sarah Buel, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Diane Halle Center for Family Justice
• Allie Bones, Executive Director of the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence=
• Marnie Hodahkwen, Assistant U.S. Attorney and Deputy Tribal Liaison at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona
• Stephanie Willison, Deputy County Attorney in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office

“One of our key missions at the law school is to serve as a bridge between those who are practicing the law and those who are studying the law,” Hessick said. “The Diane Halle Center is the perfect place for this discourse, where practical know-how and theoretical experts can learn from each other and educate the community.”

Conference registration fees are $12 for the general public and $40 for attorneys seeking Continuing Legal Education (2.5 credits).  ASU faculty, staff and students will be admitted free. For more information and to register, go to

Janie Magruder,
Office of Communications, College of Law