Text: S.717 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)
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
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
(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
(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
(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
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
(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
(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:
Vol. 163 (2017):
Aug. 1, considered and passed
Vol. 164 (2018):
July 17, considered and passed
Aug. 15, Senate concurred in House