Professor Kohn to Serve on D.C. Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board

May 2, 2014—Laurie S. Kohn, Associate Professor of Clinical Law and Director of the Family Justice Litigation Clinic, will serve on the D.C. Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board (DVFRB). Mayor Vincent Gray nominated Professor Kohn to the position, and the D.C. City Council confirmed her in May of 2014.

A 2003 law established the DVFRB to improve the responses of the District community and its services in all domestic violence cases. The board seeks to use the tragic accounts of homicide victims' lives and experiences to better serve and protect potential future victims.

"Though our national response to domestic violence has become much more aggressive over the last few decades, and though greater avenues for legal intervention exist, domestic violence fatalities have remained essentially consistent for many years," said Professor Kohn. "The board has the potential to arrest this trend."

In her new role, Professor Kohn will work with other DVFRB members to conduct "social autopsies" on victims. In each case, members will analyze the backgrounds of both the perpetrator and the victim, considering their educations and interactions with the legal system, neglect system, medical system, and social support system. By looking at the victims' lives, they hope to identify gaps in the network of support that the city provides and create proposals to fill those gaps.

This is not Professor Kohn's first time working on the DVFRB. She previously served on the board in 2003 after its establishment by Mayor Anthony Williams and rotated off in 2006 after completing her term. "When I was approached this year to join the newly revived board, I was thrilled to join the process again and move its mission forward," she said.