Rising for Justice believes in ensuring due process for all civil litigants.

At the urging of the DC Superior Court in early 2018, Rising for Justice established the Respondent Representation Program, a first-of-its-kind project to provide representation to respondents in CPO matters.

Every year, thousands of individuals appear at Civil Protection Order (CPO) hearings in the Domestic Violence Division of the Superior Court and face losing custody of their children, deportation, incarceration, or other severe consequences that generally are considered only to result as a consequence of criminal proceedings. However, where defendants have the right to counsel and the government must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, no such procedural protections exist for CPO respondents, who can face the same consequences. In some cases, respondents appear before the court in response to petitions that may be better suited for adjudication in the family or landlord-tenant courts.  As part of our effort to address this grave inequality, Rising for Justice represents respondents in these matters. Over half of our clients are women, and all of our clients come to us during this difficult time seeking support and assistance.

Petitioners can seek a CPO against a person with whom they either have or have had a domestic relationship, when the respondent has committed, or threatened to commit, a crime against them.  In addition, a petitioner can seek an Anti-Stalking Order (ASO) against an individual where no domestic relationship exists, but the respondent has stalked them. Rising for Justice represents respondents in both types of cases.

By ensuring both sides have access to representation, Rising for Justice helps to resolve conflict in a structured setting where all parties are heard, have the opportunity to have questions answered, and have the opportunity to address their disputes in a constructive way.  We facilitate settlements of both CPOs and ASOs and otherwise work to resolve controversies as effectively as possible. Thanks to our interventions, respondents are more likely to comply with the resulting court orders and move forward with their lives.

Rising for Justice maintains an office in the Superior Court where prospective clients can walk-in and meet with staff attorneys or pro bono volunteers for advice and representation.

  • For information about the Respondent Representation Program, email respondent[@]risingforjustice[.]org
  • To get help in a CPO matter, click here.