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Women and the Law Conference 2009

February 27, 2009

The U.S. legal system’s treatment of domestic violence has evolved a long way from the “rule of thumb.”  (Early U.S. courts tended to follow the British common law, which provided that a man could chastise his wife “in moderation” – like one might a servant or child – and tolerated the custom that a man could beat his wife so long as he used a switch no thicker than his thumb.)  Today, every state treats physical and sexual domestic violence as a crime, and many states have also criminalized verbal, psychological, and emotional abuse that occurs in domestic relationships.  Some states recognize various domestic torts, and a few have even established special domestic violence courts.  Still, numerous counterproductive myths regarding domestic violence abound, and much work needs to be done in order to create a legal regime capable of successfully combating domestic violence.

This year’s Women and the Law Conference will bring together a wide range of experts on domestic violence.  Domestic violence survivors from a variety of backgrounds will share their stories.  Defense attorneys, custody mediators, prosecutors, and law enforcement personnel will share their experiences and frustrations with the current legal theories and options available in domestic violence cases.  Domestic abuse experts will discuss the causes and effects of domestic violence as well as the most promising intervention therapies and assistance programs.  Finally, scholars will discuss their proposals for providing more effective legal strategies and remedies for the many victims of domestic violence and helping to end the scourge of domestic violence in this country.

WLC 2009 Flyer

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecturer and Keynote Speaker

Cheryl Hanna

Professor, Vermont Law School

Co-author, Domestic Violence and the law: Policy and Practice

“Behind the Castle Walls: Is the Right to Privacy Creating a Safe Harbor for Abusers?”

This conference is intended to dispel the many myths surrounding domestic violence and develop real solutions for combating this terrible epidemic. Domestic Violence Survivors from all walks of life will share their stories, and local attorneys, custody mediators such as Russell Gold, Ph.D., and law enforcement personnel, including representatives from the Domestic Violence Unit of the San Diego Police Department and San Diego District Attorney’s Office, will share their experiences and frustrations with the options and remedies that the current legal system offers. Abuse experts such as Sandra Brown, M.A., psychotherapist, and co-author of several self-help books, will discuss the causes and effects of domestic violence as well as the most promising therapeutic and government interventions, and scholars such as Ilene Durst and Claire Wright of Thomas Jefferson School of Law will discuss their proposals for improving the legal system so that it works for the victims of domestic violence and helps to end the scourge of domestic violence in this country.

For more information, contact Professor Claire Wright at