Family Violence     Seminar

Professor Mary Weir

Professor Barbara Glesner Fines

University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law



Law 751S – Spring 2010

Course Meets Tuesdays 4-5:50 in 2-200A




Mary Weir

Contact info:


Barbara Glesner Fines

Office:        1-511 Holmes Suite

Contact info:  (816) 235-2380 (voice), (816) 235-5276 (fax) or




 Text: Domestic Violence Law by Nancy K.D. Lemon (3rd ed) 


Course Goals:


1. To assure that students possess a thorough understanding of the dynamics of intimate partner violence and its comparison to other forms of family violence

2. To assure that students possess a thorough understanding of the laws relating to intimate partner violence

3. To appreciate the necessity of interdisciplinary responses to address domestic violence and to perceive the role of political and cultural institutions in influencing societal and legal responses to domestic violence.

4.  To increase the student's understanding  and empathic response to domestic violence victims

5. To increase the student's knowledge of identification and response strategies for attorneys in a wide range of practices.

6. To increase the student''s knowledge of available community resources

My personal course goal:








Expected Learning Outcomes

1. Ability to explain all laws relating to domestic violence in relation to:

·        divorce, custody, visitation and relocation

·        termination of parental rights and criminal child abuse and neglect

·        adult and child orders of protection

·        criminal prosecution of general crimes and specialized offenses against the family

·        the defenses available to battered women as criminal defendants

·        the potential liability of police and employers who fail to protect victims of domestic violence

3. Ability to critically examine the popular reporting of research concerning domestic violence

4. Ability to conduct a screening interview and provide safety planning for victims

5. Ability to counsel victims on the available resources in the community and the advantages and disadvantages of various courses of action

6. Ability to assist a victim in obtaining a protective order

7. Ability to counsel a victim on the implications of raising issues of domestic violence in a divorce or custody proceeding

8. Ability to prepare evidence for criminal or civil trial involving issues of domestic violence

9.. Ability to research topics related to family violence and produce an acceptable paper on a specific topic.

10. Ability to critically reflect on observations of the legal system’s response to domestic violence and make suggestions for policy improvements



·         Students are expected to be prepared for each class.  There are written class preparation assignments for seven of the thirteen classes. 


·         Students are expected to contribute quality comments and questions to class discussion and to give respectful attention to the comments and questions of others.


·         Students must pass an examination on their basic competency in the subject of domestic violence.  The examination will be an in-class, closed book exam.  Students who fail to achieve a score of 70% on the exam must repeat the exam before the end of classes.


·         Students will prepare a short research memorandum on a special topic and present that topic to the class.  Students may combine their presentation with others if they have related topics, but students should prepare their own papers.


o   Papers should be between 8-10 pages and have a minimum of three sources. 

o   The memorandum must clearly identify the specific issue or question to be addressed, rather than simply reporting on a subject.

o   The memorandum must provide thorough analysis of the issue presented, exploring and resolving competing arguments).

o   The memorandum must reflect thorough research of primary authorities and the proper use of those authorities to support arguments raised.  Citation form for authorities must be consistent, complete and accessible.

o   The memorandum must be organized, coherent, and written in clear, concise, simple, precise language.


·         Students should complete at least two different field observation experiences (e.g., observing a protective order docket, a criminal case involving domestic violence, touring a domestic violence shelter, attending a victim advocacy session).  Students who are working for pay or participating in a clinic program may not count those hours as field observations. For each observation experience, the student should complete a report

o   list the date(s), time period, location and contact person for each separate field observation. 

o   Summarize key observations and reflections gained from the observation.

o   Reports need not be elaborate; consider 2-5 pages as appropriate length, depending on how many hours and how interesting the observations.



Given the prevalence of family violence in our society, it is more likely than not that some students in the class will have had personal experiences of violence.  For all of us, but especially for those of use who have experienced traumatic violence, it is difficult to distance ourselves from our own experiences to achieve some objectivity in evaluating opinions and ideas that run contrary to our own understanding.  


  • We will maintain a respectful, even formal if necessary, tone in our classroom discussions. 


  • We will listen carefully and respectfully to the ideas our colleagues offer.  We will not hold side-bar conversations, interrupt, or surf the internet for weekend entertainment plans.


  • We will examine ideas not attack people. 


  • We will not personalize our disagreements or dissents and will try not to take personally the disagreements and dissents of others. 


  • We will contribute our ideas and questions to support and further the learning of the entire class.

Some students may find certain material very difficult emotionally. You are welcome to integrate personal experiences into class discussions and reaction papers. Please feel free to communicate with us, in person, by phone or via email, if you think we could help. However, neither of us are competent to provide in-depth counseling for students.  Further, the classroom is no substitute for therapy. You are encouraged to seek help.  Some helpful contacts include:

·         UMKC Counseling Service 816-235-1635

·         Battered Women’s Hotline & Shelter  816-861-6100 (Kansas City)

·         Child Abuse & Neglect Hotline 1-800-392-0210 (National)

·         Metropolitan Organization to Combat Sexual Abuse (MOCSA—Rape and Sexual Assault Services) 816-931-4527 (Kansas City)

·         Parents Anonymous 816-474-4588 (Kansas City)

·         Rape Crisis Line 816-531-0233 (Kansas City)

·         Elder Abuse Hotline 1-800-392-0210 (National)


Some notes about pacing and assignments:  There is a lot of reading to be done in this class (an average of 50 pages a week); however, you will find that much of it is compelling reading and only a small percentage is the typical doctrinal fare you have been digesting in many law classes.  Several weeks require reading a set of statutes – for the most part you need only read through the statutes to get the big picture, we will concentrate our attention on only a small portion of the set. Do not discount the importance of historical, sociological, psychological, or narrative reading assignments – they are all critical to your understanding the essential topic we are studying.  Pace your preparation for class out through the week – do not expect this is a class you can read for in the hour or two before class.  To assist in your class preparation, some classes have worksheets for you to complete before class.  You should write out the answers to the questions on these worksheets.  Worksheets will ordinarily be collected at the beginning of each class, so make a copy for your use in class discussion.

The schedule of reading assignments below indicates the order in which we will approach topics in the course.  We will have a variety of class activities: discussions and debates, lectures and guest speakers, simulation exercises and videos, and yes, even good-old fashioned quizzes.  Your class participation is an essential component of your learning and you are expected to actively contribute to the learning in the class.

If you are confused about topics or readings, please ask for clarification or assistance.  If you are especially enthused about a particular topic and want to learn more, let us know.  Most especially, if you are stuck on the writing assignment or in arranging observation experiences, ask early and often for assistance.  The 13 weeks go by far too quickly to lose a week or two to inertia.




Jan 12

I. History & Overview

Read Text pp. 1-37

Study MCDAV, The Nature & Dynamics of Domestic Violence

Jan 19

II. Dynamics of Abusive Relationships

Read Text pp. 37-117

Prepare Week Two worksheet for class

Jan 26

III. Civil Legal Responses: Restraining Orders

Read Text pp 282-337; 341-46; 377-82; 940-44

Study Missouri Protective Order Statute: §§ 455.010-.090 of RS Mo Chapter 455

Read 18 U.S.C. Sec 922 (g)(8)

Prepare Week Three worksheet for class

Feb 2

IV. Representing Clients in Protective Order Cases

Read text pp. 974-81

Review ABA Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking in Civil Protection Order Cases

In class, we will be practicing interviewing and advising a victim of domestic violence

Feb 9

V. Children and DV

Impact on Custody & Visitation

Review Chapter 452 sections on custody: §§ 452.375 – 452.400

Review Chapter 565 sections on parental kidnapping:

§§ 565.149 -- 565.169

Read text pp. 383-92; 395-400; 403-422; 424-35

Complete Week Five Worksheet for class


Feb 16

Mini terms

Feb. 23

VI. Child Protection Systems

Text pp. 469-486; 495-502

Review Chapter 568 sections on child endangerment and abuse §§568.045-.050 & 568.060

Review Chapter 210 sections on child abuse, §§ 210.109- 165, and §§210.180-183,

Review Chapter 211 sections on termination of parental rights §§211.442-.487

Complete Week Six Worksheet for class

Mar 2

VII. Immigration Law and Domestic Violence

Text pp. 1101-1108; 1113-1125

Possible Field Trip to local DV shelter

Mar 9

VIII. Prosecutorial Responses

Review Chapter 565 sections on various forms of assault §§565.050-.074

Read RS Mo §566.023

Read text pp. 713-726; 731-33; 740-52; 770-786; 852-62

Complete Week Eight Worksheet for class

Mar 16

IX. Victims of DV as Criminal Defendants

Read Text pp. 865-911

Complete Week Nine Worksheet for class

Mar 23

Competency Exam

Mar 30

Mini terms

Apr. 6

Student reports on special topics

Apr 13

Student reports on special topics

Apr 20

Student reports on special topics





Grades will be assigned on a point basis:


70 points – Class preparation (10 points each for weeks 2-3 and 5-9)

30 points – Class participation (3 points each for weeks 1-10)

30 points – Competency exam

70 points – Research memorandum

30 points – Class presentation

20 points – Field Observation reports (10 points for each report)


Students may complete three additional field observation experiences for up to 30 extra points.  Up to 10 points of extra credit is also available where the student can demonstrate the impact of their learning on the family violence community.


The grading scale is:


Grade               Points

A+                    245 +

A                      233-244

A-                     225-232

B+                    217-224
B                      207-216

B-                     200-206

C+                    193-199

C                      183-192

C-                     175-182

D+                    170-174

D                      161-169

F                      160 or less


Additional One-Credit Hour Options


You may enroll in this course for three credit hours if you would like to either use the course to fulfill your R&W requirement or pursue an internship opportunity in connection with the course.  YOU MUST OBTAIN PRIOR PERMISSION OF PROFESSOR GLESNER FINES TO ENROLL IN THE THREE-CREDIT HOUR VERSION OF THE COURSE.


Using the Course to Fulfill Your R&W Requirement


If you wish to write an R&W on a topic covered in this course, you may do so by:

·         Enrolling in the course for three rather than two credit hours

·         Expand your research memorandum into an analytical paper.

·         The paper must engage in original thoughtful analysis, not merely report, compile, or describe the work of other authors.

·         It should be a minimum of 28 pages, exclusive of endnotes, using Times New Roman, 12 point font, with margins 1" around.   Your paper has to be double-spaced (although indented quotes and footnotes should be single-spaced).

·         The memorandum must reflect thorough research of primary authorities and the proper use of those authorities to support arguments raised. 

·         Students should use endnotes, rather than footnotes or internal citations.  Citation form for authorities must be consistent, complete, accessible, and accurate.  Either blue book or ALWD format is acceptable.

·         The paper must be organized, coherent, and written in clear, concise, simple, precise language.


Internship Opportunities in Connection with the Course


Individual internships for one-credit hour may be available.  Students should contact Professor Glesner Fines before the semester begins to negotiate these internship opportunities.



Domestic Violence Links:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
ABA Commission on Domestic Violence
US Dept. Health & Human Services - Administration for Children & Families
Jackson County, Missouri Family Court
Women's Law Initiative


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