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University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law - Summer 2014

Community Par tnerships by the California Penal Code and funded through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the VCRC—which stays constantly abreast of victims-related law— offers free legal information to people in need. It also refers them to local service providers, who help with everything from counseling to emergency housing. Between 2012 and 2013, the VCRC served 54,464 people. “We are a lifeline for victims of all kinds,” Elmenshawi says. “We are very proud of the services we offer them.” A committed 21st-century enterprise, the VCRC employs the tools of technology and social media to help people connect. Its assistance begins on the phone with a toll-free hotline, staffed by law school students who are overseen by attorneys. People can also get in touch through email, a chat function on its website (which allows users to remain anonymous), Facebook and Twitter. The VCRC also offers extensive community outreach through informational presentations (in Spanish and English) and workshops for service providers. Over the past two years, topics have included “Stalking: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself,” “Domestic Violence: Rights and Services” and “Senior Citizens: Protecting Yourself from Financial Abuse and Identity Theft.” In addition to its advisory and educational role, VCRC often participates in victim-related events. Center staffers have joined the Mothers Against Drunk Driving annual run, walked to the Capitol with the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week March and raised their voices at the Stand Up and Speak Out Anti-Bullying Rally. FOCUSED DECISIONS After identifying a pressing need in the legal community, IAJ launched a program last year called Focused Decisions. Conceived by Trial Advocacy Professor Joe Taylor, Focused Decisions provides comprehensive litigation services to attorneys preparing a case. The services include mock jury trials, focus groups and witness preparation. The courtroom on the Pacific McGeorge campus, complete with state-of-the-art technology, allows attorneys to conduct a trial before a mock jury in a courtroom setting. Afterward, the attorney can observe the jury deliberate from a separate breakout room equipped with high-definition cameras. “It is difficult to appreciate the advantages that a well-organized mock jury provides to your case without experiencing one in action,” says Daniel L. Baxter, a partner at Wilke, Fleury, Hoffelt, Gould & Birney. Focused Decisions provides assistance with everything that happens before a case gets to a courtroom. It facilitates Opposite: Staff and volunteers at the Victims of Crime Resource Center (VCRC). Top: VCRC Director Mariam Elmenshawi, ’11. Above: Andrew Walker, ’04, IAJ Assistant Director. focus groups for attorneys to test various strategies and offers demographic and scientific research to aid attorneys in deciding what to look for in selecting a jury. “Focused Decisions fills a void in the Sacramento area by providing full-scale legal focus group services,” says Roger Dreyer of Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora LLP. “I gave them very specific criteria for my desired jury pool, and they delivered.” Assistant director of IAJ Andrew Walker, ’04, says that Focused Decisions also upholds IAJ’s mission to serve the legal community at large. “We provide the opportunity for community participants to play an important role in a mock trial, law students to have an unmatched educational experience, and attorneys to gain a strategic advantage for their case,” Walker says. “As far as we know, there is not another program of this caliber.” PACI F I C L AW 37 S T E V E Y E AT E R


University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law - Summer 2014
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