NOTE: Course offerings change. Classes offered this semester may not be offered in future semesters.

282.1 sec. 1 - Domestic Violence Law (Fall 2014)

Instructor: Nancy K.D. Lemon  (view instructor's teaching evaluations | profile)
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Units: 3
Meeting Time: W 6:25-9:05
Meeting Location: 115

Course Start: August 27, 2014
Class Number (formerly Course Control Number) (Non-1Ls): 49823

This course will examine the legal system's response to domestic violence. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we will cover historical and psychological materials as well as topics in criminal, family, tort, immigration, welfare, housing, employment, human rights, and constitutional law. Ethical and policy issues will be included throughout, as will discussion of how domestic violence affects different groups - people of the global majority (aka people of color), disabled survivors of abuse, etc.

We will discuss legal issues regarding civil protective orders, how intentional torts have applied to domestic violence, and the erosion of interspousal immunity. In the realm of family law, we will consider how domestic violence is or should be taken to account in custody proceedings, examining how alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, work or don't work in the context of domestic violence. The class will also look at interstate custody problems affecting battered mothers who flee with their children.

In the criminal section, we will analyze the efficacy of mandatory arrest and no-drop prosecution policies along with liability of police departments and other government bodies for failure to enforce protective orders or to otherwise act to protect victims of domestic violence. The class will cover survivors of domestic violence as complaining witnesses and as defendants, including the claim of self-defense, and the use of expert testimony on the common experiences of such survivors.

We will discuss federal legislation pertaining to domestic violence such as VAWA, firearms prohibitions, and the response to domestic violence in the military. Privacy issues, including cyberstalking and medical personnel reporting domestic violence to police will also be addressed. The class will discuss welfare, housing, and employment issues affecting battered women. We will end with the legal rights and problems of immigrant survivors and battered women seeking asylum in the US.

We will use a group discussion format, with each student leading part of one class. Several guest speakers and DVD's will be included. The course is graded. A paper in lieu of a final exam is possible, and the paper can be the first draft of a writing requirement to be completed the next semester. No limit on enrollment.

Nancy Lemon also teaches the Domestic Violence Practicum, 295.6J and 283Q, each spring. While students are allowed to take the practicum without taking the seminar first, they are encouraged to enroll in both courses. Students may take the practicum multiple semesters. In the practicum, students work in non-profit or prosecutorial offices around the Bay Area or with Nancy Lemon on policy issues. Topics students work on in the practicum include prosecution, criminal defense, immigration and asylum law, family law, employment issues, housing, and public benefits. For more information, go to

Note that on the July 2013 California bar exam, one of the questions dealt with whether an expert on domestic violence who taught at the state law school (clearly Nancy Lemon) could testify for the prosecution in a hypothetical case. This course covers the key issues raised in that question.

Exam Notes: F/P
Course Category: Family Law
This course is cross-listed in the following categories:
Criminal Law
Social Justice and Public Interest

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Required Books are in blue

  • Domestic Violence Law
    Nancy K. D. Lemon
    Edition: 4th (2013)
    Publisher: West
    ISBN: 9780314277060
    Copyright Date: To Be Determined
    Price: $147.00
    Price Source: BKSTR

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