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Victim Advocacy in the Courtroom

Persuasive Practices in Domestic Violence and Child Protection Cases

Mary Lay Schuster

Publication Year: 2011

This volume examines sentencing hearings in criminal court and the presentation of victim impact statements, as well as child protection cases in juvenile court and the recommendations of guardians ad litem (GALS). Through interviews, observations, and textual analysis, all deeply grounded in an innovative court watch program, the authors illuminate the most effective persuasive practices of victim advocates and GALS as they help protect the rights and needs of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. Mary Lay Schuster and Amy D. Propen offer nuanced interpretations of these strategies in the courtroom setting and provide an understanding of how to develop successful advocacy for vulnerable parties in the legal arena.

Published by: Northeastern University Press

Series: Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law

Series Page

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Title Page

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pp. vii-x

One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, and over one million women are assaulted by their intimate partners every year. Although men are also victims of domestic violence, females constitute the vast majority of such victims. In addition, every year in the United States approximately 780,000 children come to the attention of child protective services because ...

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1. Victim Advocacy in the Courtroom

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pp. 1-25

When a victim of domestic violence or a child who has been neglected and abused comes to the attention of the legal system, that person has already suffered greatly. Betrayed and assaulted by the most important person in what should be a loving and trusting relationship, the victim, if he or she survives, and the victim’s family face a confusing array of professionals who are well ...

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2. Perspectives for Understanding Advocacy in the Courtroom

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pp. 26-54

Examining the various means of persuasion used by victim advocates and guardians ad litem (GALs) reveals how such discourse establishes authority, sup ports or challenges existing knowledge, and questions or changes bases of power within the legal system. In this chapter, we explain specific concepts of rhetorical criticism, such as genre and activity theories, to prepare the reader ...

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3. Reason and Emotion, Objectivity and Subjectivity, in the Courtroom

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pp. 55-81

In both criminal and juvenile court, emotional appeals and subjective recommendations complicate attempts to make decisions based on reason and to maintain, as much as possible, objective responses to similar cases. For example, victim impact statements (VISs) bring emotion directly into sentencing hearings when victims, with the help of their advocates, convey the physical, ...

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4. Issues of Credibility, Trust, and Power for Victims and Their Advocates

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pp. 82-111

The genre system that consists of sentencing guidelines, presentencing reports, and plea negotiations in criminal court, and the case plans that require standardized treatment programs in juvenile court constitute technologies of power that normalize reason and objectivity in the legal system. Sentencing guidelines represent the best efforts of the criminal court to exact uniform retribution, and ...

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5. Advocacy Work: Giving Voice to the Vulnerable and Abused

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pp. 112-144

To create a voice for victims in criminal court, victim advocates guide them through the process of writing victim impact statements (VISs) to read in sentencing hearings, and to represent the best interests of children in juvenile court, guardians ad litem (GALs) gather subjective information to support objective recommendations. Victim advocates must help their clients feel heard and believed ...

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6. The Rhetorical Work of Victim Advocates and Guardians ad Litem: Perspectives and Recommendations

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pp. 145-168

Victim advocates and guardians ad litem (GALs) are instrumental not only in helping the neglected, abused, and vulnerable establish a voice within the criminal and juvenile courtrooms but also in refining, resisting, and even changing the normative structures of these legal systems to better accommodate those voices. So that the reader can see again, as a whole, the rhetorical work of victim ...


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pp. 167-200


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pp. 201-214


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pp. 215-224


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pp. 225-234

E-ISBN-13: 9781555537586
E-ISBN-10: 1555537588

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law