Welcome to the Pro Bono Protective Order Project Attorney Volunteer Resource Page! San Antonio Legal Services Association (SALSA) has partnered with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) to launch the Pro Bono Protective Order Project. On behalf of SALSA and TRLA, we are excited you have chosen to volunteer with our program!
We thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to volunteer and help indigent and at-risk victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking receive the protective orders they need. Not only has there been an increase in domestic violence incidents and homicides in our community in recent history, but this problem has only worsened due to the isolation victims are experiencing because of restrictions implemented during COVID-19. By volunteering with our pro bono project, you are helping victims of domestic violence escape a dangerous situation and keep themselves and their children safe.
We encourage you to review the training materials provided in the links below. Our goal is to provide you with the tools and support necessary so that you understand the dynamics and prevalence of domestic violence in order to be trauma-informed in your representation of this vulnerable population. If you have any questions or need additional assistance during your volunteer experience, please do not hesitate to reach out to Hilary Showers at [email protected]. Thank you for your time and assistance with this important project!
WHY YOUR ROLE MATTERS
You are helping survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault get and stay safe. By representing the survivors throughout the entirety of the case, you are allowing them to get the protective orders they need, but would not ordinarily be able to afford. You will make a difference with each case you take – a life you’ll be helping to change and protect.
Throughout this process, you are also a much-needed support for the survivors who, during this turbulent time in their life, need consistency and stability. When everyone involved in this process is trauma-informed, we are able not only to keep survivors safe, but also help them heal and move on from their traumatic experiences. Having a consistent support system when everything else in their lives is upheaved and erratic is vital to survivor autonomy and safety.
You will be at the heart of this process by representing the clients during some of the scariest parts for them – in court, in front of a judge, but more so, in front of their abuser. With your empathy and legal skills, you will be the reason many of these survivors are able to face their fears and begin closing a horrible chapter of their lives. By volunteering with SALSA’s and TRLA’s Pro Bono Protective Order Project, you’re not only helping the survivors obtain the protective orders they need, but you’re also helping them move forward so that they and their children can live a happier, safer life.
Below are four training videos to provide a basic introduction to domestic violence and protective orders. Please watch these videos before you begin working on your case(s).
1) Dynamics of Domestic Violence: Ethical Considerations for Legal Professionals Working with Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Protective Order Cases presented by Dorie Budde, LMSW, Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate for Joint Base San Antonio
2) Trauma-Informed Interviewing for Legal Professionals presented by Neva Fernandez, Advocacy Manager, Texas Legal Services Center
3) Protective Orders 101: Texas Family Code and Code of Criminal Procedure Protective Orders presented by Erin Martinson, JD, Team Manager, Domestic Violence and Family Team, TRLA
4) Litigating Protective Orders in District Court (https://youtu.be/UN0Az6811k8) presented by Richard Loza, JD, Staff Attorney, TRLA
Two additional training videos on recognizing and managing compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, and burnout are included below. Please watch these videos and familiarize yourself with the signs of compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, and burnout. The videos also provide suggestions for planning for and combating the side effects of working with trauma victims.
PROTECTIVE ORDER RESOURCES
These resources are available to assist you throughout the protective order case.
PROTECTIVE ORDER MANUAL – The Protective Order Manual is a comprehensive guide to protective orders. It is a step-by-step guide for representing victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in protective order cases. The manual will walk you through applying for and obtaining a protective order, including what to file and how to help prepare your client through all stages of trial.
Intake Form – This is a modified screening template (the risk assessment referenced in the Protective Order Manual has been integrated into the original screening template). The non-attorney volunteers have been instructed to use this form during the initial trauma-informed interview and provide a completed copy to the volunteer attorney. The completed intake form will provide information about the Q&A portion of the interview and will also include the non-attorney volunteer’s observations about the client. You will use this information in assessing which type(s) of protective order(s) the client needs. Please read this prior to working on your first case.
How Do I Write Incidents of Violence – This one-page guide provides additional information to help you inquire about, describe, and document instances of abuse. Please read this prior to working on your first case.
Stalking Log – This is the same Stalking Log provided by the link in the Protective Order Manual. It is included here for easy access when you feel a client may need it. The non-attorney volunteer that conducted intake may have provided the client with a stalking log at the conclusion of the intake interview.
CPO Guide – This guide for improving practice with civil protective orders was created by National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) and the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith and Credit (NCPOFFC). It is intended to provide a foundational understanding of the values and practices required for a better civil protective order system. The guide has three major sections: Common Ground, Discipline-Specific Chapters, and Issues in Focus. Common Ground sets forth the gold standard values and practices for improving civil protective order practice. Discipline-Specific Chapters provides strategies and guidance for the numerous legal disciplines involved in ensuring safety for victims. Issues in Focus discusses three areas, firearms, military issues, and technology, that are critical to reaching an effective implementation of the values and strategies provided in the CPO Guide.
ABA Standards of Practice in Civil Protection Orders – The American Bar Association compiled this reference for attorneys handling civil protective order cases. The reference discusses attorneys’ ethical duties, client safety, scope of representation, and procedures for civil protective order cases.
On the Edge of Homicide: Strangulation as a Prelude – This short article discusses the statistics, warning signs, symptoms of strangulation. It also provides additional resources regarding this topic.
PLEADINGS AND LITIGATION SUPPORT
The following are examples of pleadings you will need in a protective order case. No pleading is complete and must be tailored to each individual case and client’s needs.
- E-Filing: The e-File Guide is below in case you run into any issues utilizing the Texas e-File system. For many of our volunteers, this may be the first time you’ve filed on behalf of an indigent client. We’ve provided relevant guidance on this process below.
- E-Filing Guide – Administrative Questions
- E-Filing Instructions to Create Payment Waiver Account for Indigent Client – You do not need to file an Affidavit of Inability to Pay (with Legal Aid Certificate) because the court/clerk is not allowed to charge fees to protective order applicants.
- Application for Protective Order (with Temporary Ex Pate Protective Order) – This is the initial request for a protective order. This application is used when you are also requesting a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order. You will file this with either an Affidavit or a Declaration.
- Application for Protective Order (without Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order) – Use this application template when filing just an Application for Protective Order, but you are not requesting a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order. You will still file this application with either an Affidavit or a Declaration.
- Affidavit of Petitioner – This form is used instead of the Declaration. The Affidavit needs to be notarized, but it does not require Petitioner to disclose their address. Use your best judgment when determining which one to use for your case.
- Protective Order Declaration – This form is used instead of the Affidavit. The Declaration does not need to be notarized, but does disclose the Applicant’s address. Use your best judgment when determining which one to use for your case.
- Request for Service Form (Bexar County) – You’ll need this form when you serve respondent with the Application for Protective Order (Affidavit/Declaration attached) and the Temporary Ex Part Protective Order.
- If you are only serving an Application for Protective Order, you’ll want to check the “Notice of Application for Protective Order” option. If you are serving an Application for Protective Order and a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order, you’ll want to check the “Notice of Application for Protective Order” and “Temporary Protective Order” options. This form is only e-filed after you have the Temporary Ex Parte Order signed by a Judge.
- You will also need this form if you need to extend the Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order. You’ll check the “Notice of Application for Protective Order” and “Temporary Protective Order” boxes.
- If Respondent does not appear at the final hearing and you need to serve Respondent with the Final Protective Order, check the “Other” box and type in “Final Protective Order.”
- Subpoena_SAPD – You’ll use this form when requesting a certified copy of a police report from the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD). Typically, after receiving the Subpoena, someone from SAPD will reach out and ask if it’s acceptable they provide you a certified copy of the police report instead of having to appear in court, and the answer to this question should be yes. The key is to get a certified copy of the police report so that it’s easier to lay a foundation for the police report at the final hearing.
- BCSO Report Request – You can send a request for a certified copy of an Offense or Incident Report from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office to [email protected]. If the offense involves a minor, violence, or the death of a person, you must include “Freedom of Information Act” or “Open Records Request” either in the subject or the body of the e-mail request.
- Contested Hearing Testimony Questions – You can use these testimony questions during a contested protective order final hearing. You’ll want to review them ahead of time and tailor them to each case.
- Default Hearing Testimony Questions – You can use these testimony questions during a default protective order final hearing. You’ll want to review them ahead of time and tailor them to each case.
The following are examples of orders you will need in a protective order case. No order is complete and must be adapted to each individual case and client’s need.
- Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order – This is a temporary protective order in effect until the final hearing is held.
- Schedule A – This needs to be attached as an exhibit to a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order, an Order for Extensions of a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order, and a Final Protective Order. The exhibit identifies the people protected by the protective order.
- TCIC Protective Order Data Entry Form – This form is only required if you are able to get a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order or a Final Protective Order. Law enforcement uses this form to tag addresses and persons as protected by a protective order. The form also provides law enforcement with identification information for the respondent and potential for dangerous interactions with Respondent. This document will contain confidential addresses and should never be shared with the Respondent or entered into a public record – DO NOT E-FILE THIS FORM. You can e-mail the completed TCIC Form to the Records Office at [email protected] and they will forward the form to the proper place in the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office. When hearings are no longer remote, you will need to walk the TCIC Form to the Records Office.
- Order Extending a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order – This order extends the Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order if the final hearing is rescheduled.
- Final Protective Order – This is the final protective order after the final hearing is held.
The following links are specifically for practicing in Bexar County:
- Reports & Records Searches: https://www.bexar.org/254/Reports-Record-Searches
- You can use this link to search for basic case information for both civil and criminal cases. You need either a cause number or a party name in order to search.
- Local Rules: https://www.bexar.org/DocumentCenter/View/23495/Part-3-Civil-District-Court-Rules
- Please read and abide by the local Bexar County Civil District Court Rules.
- Civil District Courts: https://www.bexar.org/1703/Civil-District-Courts
- This link will provide you with the Civil District Presiding Court Zoom information.
- Civil District Presiding: https://www.bexar.org/3000/Presiding-Court
- This link provides COVID-19 updates, including information required on fiats and orders setting hearings.
- Civil District Presiding Calendar: https://www.bexar.org/2995/Civil-Court-Schedule
- Please check this link to ensure the Civil District Presiding Docket is not full prior to choosing a date for the final hearing.
- Holidays: https://www.bexar.org/474/Holidays
- Remember to check for holidays when scheduling your final hearings (holidays do not appear on the Civil District Presiding Calendar).
- Central Magistrate Search: https://centralmagistrate.bexar.org/
- Allows you to search for individuals who have been arrested for an offense of Class B or higher, and were processed by the Central Magistrate Office within the last 24 hours. The results of the search will display details on the individual and their charges.
- Family Violence & DWI Fugitive Search: https://fugitivesearch.bexar.org/
- Sometimes you may be able to confirm additional family violence charges through this search.
- VINELink: https://vinelink.com/classic/#/home/state/TX
- The link above takes you to “VINE, the nation’s leading victim notification network. It allows survivors, victims of crime, and other concerned citizens to access timely and reliable information about offenders or criminal cases in U.S. jails and prisons.”
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCES FOR CLIENTS
The non-attorney volunteers may have already shared some of the following resources with the client. You should familiarize yourself with the documents and be prepared to share them with the client in case the non-attorney has not done so or in the event that the client has misplaced these documents.
- DV Services Directory – Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) compiled a list of organizations that provide family violence shelter, counseling, and prevention services. The list is sorted by type of organization and listed alphabetically by city and county.
- PowerControlWheel_English – The Power & Control Wheel illustrates the different types of abuse an abuser uses to maintain power and control over their partner.
- PowerControlWheel_Spanish – La Rueda de Poder y Control muestra los diferentes tipos de abuso que usa un abusador para mantener el poder y el control sobre su pareja.
- SafetyPlan_LongForm – The Safety Plan is the most important tool for victims. The form provides questions and suggestions for survivors to help keep them safe during the various stages of escaping an abusive relationship. Having a safety plan in place can save a victim’s life and should be reevaluated often as abuser tactics may change over the course of a victim leaving.
ADDITIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCES
Below are additional resources that tell the stories of domestic violence victims who were killed by their abusers and important demographic information about the victims. Protective orders and court intervention are important tools that can help keep survivors and their children safe before situations escalate.
- Honoring Texas Victims 2019 – The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) shares selected short stories from Texas counties honoring domestic violence fatality victims.
- Summary Fact Sheet Honoring TX Victims_1 – Demographic information regarding domestic violence fatalities of women in Texas in 2019.
- Summary Fact Sheet Honoring TX Victims_2 – Demographic information regarding domestic violence fatalities of men and the LGBTQIA+ community in Texas in 2019.