Professor Meier Appointed to Gov. Cuomo’s Task Force on Domestic Violence and COVID-19

Joan Meier
May 26, 2020

Joan S. Meier, Professor of Clinical Law and Director of the National Family Violence Law Center at GW Law, has been named to a new task force that will work to address the spike in reported domestic violence cases amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The task force was created by Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and the New York State Council on Women and Girls to identify solutions to help domestic violence survivors and to modernize the traditional ways that services have been provided in the past. It will present policy recommendations to Gov. Cuomo by Thursday, May 28.

Professor Meier is one of 28 members of the task force, which is composed of CEOs, nonprofit leaders, and academics.

“I am honored to join the task force and to advise Gov. Cuomo on the domestic violence crisis during COVID-19,” said Professor Meier. “We need to take aggressive action to assist all domestic violence victims, and what is especially exciting about this task force is the Governor’s interest in long-term systems change, not just emergency measures.”

Professor Meier has appeared in news media outlets to discuss domestic violence in the wake of the pandemic. She was recently interviewed by about why COVID-19  has increased the incidence and severity of domestic violence cases. In a Forbes piece by GW Law Professor Naomi R. Cahn, she discussed the challenges faced by women whose ex-partners refuse to observe social distancing or hygiene practices while their children go back-and-forth between households. She also was quoted by Al Jazeera on how the pandemic can be used as a weapon to have courts vacate parental rights.

Professor Meier has been a clinical law professor for 29 years at GW Law, where she founded three nationally recognized interdisciplinary domestic violence clinical programs. She has published widely on domestic violence, custody, clinical teaching, criminal procedure, and various Supreme Court decisions. Her study, “Child Custody Outcomes in Cases Involving Parental Alienation and Abuse Allegations,” funded by the National Institute of Justice, was completed in 2019. The study’s findings have been spotlighted in a number of scholarly works and by multiple media outlets, including The Washington Post and The New Yorker

In 2019, Professor Meier stepped down from the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP), the nonprofit she founded in 2003 to provide pro bono appeals in domestic violence cases. While at DV LEAP, she was the co-author of 11 amicus briefs and three party briefs in the US Supreme Court. She also has represented domestic violence organizations and survivors of domestic violence in state court appeals all over the country and in Washington, DC. In addition, she has provided numerous trainings for judges, psychologists, lawyers, domestic violence coalitions, and others on best practices in adjudication of domestic violence and family court litigation and on her empirical research.

Professor Meier will participate in a GW Law legal briefing on COVID-19 on Wednesday, May 27 at 1:30 pm. During the webinar, she will address how COVID-19 is impacting families, particularly in the area of domestic violence.