Text: S.717 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

Text available as:

Shown Here:
Public Law No: 115-237 (09/04/2018)

 
[115th Congress Public Law 237]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]



[[Page 132 STAT. 2447]]

Public Law 115-237
115th Congress

                                 An Act


 
To promote pro bono legal services as a critical way in which to empower 
  survivors of domestic violence. <<NOTE: Sept. 4, 2018 -  [S. 717]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Pro bono Work to 
Empower and Represent Act of 2018.>> 
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Pro bono Work to Empower and 
Represent Act of 2018'' or the ``POWER Act''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) Extremely high rates of domestic violence, dating 
        violence, sexual assault, and stalking exist at the local, 
        State, tribal, and national levels and such violence or behavior 
        harms the most vulnerable members of our society.
            (2) According to a study commissioned by the Department of 
        Justice, nearly 25 percent of women suffer from domestic 
        violence during their lifetime.
            (3) Proactive efforts should be made available in all forums 
        to provide pro bono legal services and eliminate the violence 
        that destroys lives and shatters families.
            (4) A variety of factors cause domestic violence, dating 
        violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and a variety of 
        solutions at the local, State, and national levels are necessary 
        to combat such violence or behavior.
            (5) According to the National Network to End Domestic 
        Violence, which conducted a census including almost 1,700 
        assistance programs, over the course of 1 day in September 2014, 
        more than 10,000 requests for services, including legal 
        representation, were not met.
            (6) Pro bono assistance can help fill this need by providing 
        not only legal representation, but also access to emergency 
        shelter, transportation, and childcare.
            (7) Research and studies have demonstrated that the 
        provision of legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, 
        dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking reduces the 
        probability of such violence or behavior reoccurring in the 
        future and can help survivors move forward.
            (8) Legal representation increases the possibility of 
        successfully obtaining a protective order against an attacker, 
        which prevents further mental and physical injury to a victim 
        and his or her family, as demonstrated by a study that found 
        that 83 percent of victims represented by an attorney were

[[Page 132 STAT. 2448]]

        able to obtain a protective order, whereas only 32 percent of 
        victims without an attorney were able to do so.
            (9) The American Bar Association Model Rules include 
        commentary stating that ``every lawyer, regardless of 
        professional prominence or professional workload, has a 
        responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay, 
        and personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged 
        can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a 
        lawyer''.
            (10) As leaders in their legal communities, judges in 
        district courts should encourage lawyers to provide pro bono 
        resources in an effort to help victims of such violence or 
        behavior escape the cycle of abuse.
            (11) A dedicated army of pro bono attorneys focused on this 
        mission will inspire others to devote efforts to this cause and 
        will raise awareness of the scourge of domestic violence, dating 
        violence, sexual assault, and stalking throughout the country.
            (12) Communities, by providing awareness of pro bono legal 
        services and assistance to survivors of domestic violence, 
        dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, will empower 
        those survivors to move forward with their lives.
SEC. 3. <<NOTE: Time periods.>>  DISTRICT COURTS TO PROMOTE 
                    EMPOWERMENT EVENTS.

    (a) <<NOTE: Deadline.>>  In General.--Not later than 1 year after 
the date of enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter for a period 
of 4 years, the chief judge, or his or her designee, for each judicial 
district shall lead not less than one public event, in partnership with 
a State, local, tribal, or territorial domestic violence service 
provider or coalition and a State or local volunteer lawyer project, 
promoting pro bono legal services as a critical way in which to empower 
survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and 
stalking and engage citizens in assisting those survivors.

    (b) Districts Containing Indian Tribes and Tribal Organizations.--
During each 2-year period, the chief judge, or his or her designee, for 
a judicial district that contains an Indian tribe or tribal organization 
(as those terms are defined in section 4 of the Indian Self-
Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 5304)) shall lead 
not less than one public event promoting pro bono legal services under 
subsection (a) of this section in partnership with an Indian tribe or 
tribal organization with the intent of increasing the provision of pro 
bono legal services for Indian or Alaska Native victims of domestic 
violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
    (c) Requirements.--Each chief judge shall--
            (1) have discretion as to the design, organization, and 
        implementation of the public events required under subsection 
        (a); and
            (2) in conducting a public event under subsection (a), seek 
        to maximize the local impact of the event and the provision of 
        access to high-quality pro bono legal services by survivors of 
        domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and 
        stalking.
SEC. 4. REPORTING REQUIREMENTS.

    (a) Report to the Director of the Administrative Office of the 
United States Courts.--Not later than October 30 of each year, each 
chief judge shall submit to the Director of the Administrative Office of 
the United States Courts a report detailing

[[Page 132 STAT. 2449]]

each public event conducted under section 3 during the previous fiscal 
year.
    (b) Report to Congress.--
            (1) In general.--Not later than January 1 of each year, the 
        Director of the Administrative Office of the United States 
        Courts shall submit to Congress a compilation and summary of 
        each report received under subsection (a) for the previous 
        fiscal year.
            (2) <<NOTE: Analysis.>>  Requirement.--Each comprehensive 
        report submitted under paragraph (1) shall include an analysis 
        of how each public event meets the goals set forth in this Act, 
        as well as suggestions on how to improve future public events.
SEC. 5. FUNDING.

    The Administrative Office of the United States Courts shall use 
existing funds to carry out the requirements of this Act.

    Approved September 4, 2018.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 717:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD:
                                                        Vol. 163 (2017):
                                    Aug. 1, considered and passed 
                                        Senate.
                                                        Vol. 164 (2018):
                                    July 17, considered and passed 
                                        House, amended.
                                    Aug. 15, Senate concurred in House 
                                        amendment.

                                  <all>