Orange County Domestic Violence Death Review Team Releases Study Highlighting Fatality Trends and Recommendations for Prevention and Intervention


Portrait of Jane Stoever

Orange County Domestic Violence Death Review Team (DVDRT) released a decade long study highlighting fatality trends and recommendations for prevention and intervention. The task force is co-chaired by University of California, Irvine School of Law (UCI Law) Professor Jane Stoever, director of UCI Law Domestic Violence Clinic and UCI Initiative to End Family Violence, and Maricela Rio-Faust, chief executive officer of nonprofit Human Options. The multidisciplinary task force and students of the UCI Law Domestic Violence Clinic reviewed and analyzed domestic violence-related homicide and homicide/suicide cases identified by the coroner’s office from 2006 through 2017. The UCI Law Students that co-authored the report are: Amy Abshier, Kaleb Fulbright ’19, Brant Havlick ’19, Anthonya James, Letitia Johnson Smith and Stephanie Sneddon.

The report provides recommendations on increased education for criminal justice professionals, including lawyers and law enforcement. Domestic violence training is recommended to assess abusers and victims for lethality factors and counsel for safety planning, ensure police presence on site in cases of domestic violence and communicate the extreme danger of suicidal threats and guns. Increased training is also recommended for medical to understand gun safety in the home as well as recommendations on how to interact with strangulation victims.

“Cases highlighted in the study illustrate ways courts also can become better at preventing domestic killings,” said Prof. Stoever. “About half of the cases studied in the report were already connected to family court in some way. There were known points for earlier intervention.”

“This data shows the pervasiveness of domestic violence and is crucial in raising public awareness and preventing domestic violence fatalities,” said Anaheim Police Chief Jorge Cisneros.

The report stated that strangulation is the leading cause of domestic violence fatalities after fatalities involving weapons. Up to 68 percent of abuse survivors will be victims of near-fatal strangulation by their partner. “From this report, I want people to understand the gravity of how dangerous strangulation is,” commented Anthonya James, 3L at UCI Law. “Mere seconds can cause life-long health problems. Strangulation does not always cause bruising and can lead to memory loss of survivors. Both of these reasons contribute to a failure to acknowledge the severity of it. Hopefully this report teaches law enforcement and medical professionals to take cases of strangulation very seriously.”

A full copy of the report can be found on the UCI Law Domestic Violence Clinic website.

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