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Grants fund new family justice center


March 11, 2010

A $1 million grant from the Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation has established the Diane Halle Center for Family Justice at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. And a second $1 million grant from NextCare Urgent Care will fund the NextCare Urgent Care Family Violence Legal Clinic, which will be housed within the Center.

The center and clinic were established in partnership with the AVON Program for Women and the O'Connor House Project, committed to furthering the vision of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (Ret.) to encourage purposeful civil talk which will lead to positive civic action.

"It is wonderful news that the Halle Foundation, the AVON Foundation for Women and the ASU College of Law have made significant financial commitments to work on the issue of domestic violence," O'Connor said. "Solutions for domestic violence require a comprehensive approach to connect the wealth of resources that are needed to tackle this issue – from legal to social welfare to health services. This is a challenging issue that fits with our mission at the O'Connor House which is to bring people and ideas together so we can reach consensus and take action on difficult issues that affect us all."

Diane Halle, president of the Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation, said the center will serve an urgent need.

"Providing access to justice both for victims of family violence and for other poor families who are in need of legal service is often a matter of life and death," Halle said. "To make real change happen for our families, we need to make sure that all who are in need have access to justice. There is real urgency to take action now."

The issue is one that NextCare Urgent Care has been involved with for many years, said John Shufeldt, NextCare's founder and chief executive officer.

"NextCare has worked through domestic violence shelters for nearly a decade to provide free, confidential care for victims of this terrible crime," Shufeldt said. "Now, we are honored to be a part of this holistic approach to end domestic violence by partnering with O'Connor House in this center. I am confident that this partnership will help us better provide for the full continuum of needs of these victims."

The transdisciplinary approach, and the social embeddedness of the center and clinic match the mission established by ASU President Michael M. Crow, said Paul Schiff Berman, dean of the College of Law.

"This new center and the Family Violence Legal Clinic within it will quickly become models for the nation because they will bring together students in law, social work, nursing, psychology and criminology to work holistically on the complex web of issues surrounding family violence," Berman said. "This unprecedented collaboration is only possible through the College of Law's commitment to work with community partners to help address pressing social problems while training a new generation of public-spirited lawyers."

The center will include the NextCare Urgent Care Family Violence Legal Clinic, which will engage students and professors from the College of Law, College of Nursing and Health Innovation, School of Social Work and School of Social and Family Dynamics to provide support and free legal assistance to victims. It will cover child abuse, spousal abuse, protective orders, custody, prosecutions, family law, juvenile law, and health law matters. In addition to serving victims, the clinic will also train future generations of lawyers, who through collaboration with other ASU colleges, will learn to work with other service professionals on the holistic needs of clients.

In addition, the Halle Center will develop a child welfare initiative that will include a legal assistance program to help children navigate the juvenile court system, a research and advocacy project to change the formulas for awarding child support, a program focusing on mapping juvenile brain chemistry in order to better understand criminal justice issues affecting juveniles, outreach efforts to mentor high school students in law, and an externship program in juvenile law areas.

It also will house a program on poverty and family well-being that will focus on a broad range of legal issues that affect families, particularly families facing economic hardship. These issues include mortgage fraud and predatory lending, immigration concerns facing children, relocation of refugee families in the Arizona area, more collaborative approaches to family law, and others.

The O'Connor House Project was established in 2008 to preserve the original adobe home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (Ret.), and her husband, John. As the first woman elected majority leader of the Arizona State Senate in 1972, Justice O'Connor and her husband brought many decision makers home, where they were treated to Western hospitality that often included an informal, home-cooked meal. In a relaxed and convivial atmosphere, senators were encouraged to reach consensus on issues vital to the state, even reaching across party lines to write Senate bills. Nationally, the house had significance as Justice O'Connor was interviewed there for the U.S. Supreme Court. It also played a world role because the O'Connors introduced many international luminaries to Arizona living there. Once it became apparent that the house could be reassembled and relocated in Tempe's Papago Park, Justice O'Connor envisioned that it once again could become a place for people to gather to solve problems affecting Arizona and the nation.

Janie Magruder, Jane.Magruder@asu.edu
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law