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Be Wary of DIVO

Crime victims in North Carolina and elsewhere need to be wary of a relatively new and badly-misnamed defense bar tactic called Defense Initiated Victim Outreach or DIVO.

Under the DIVO model, defense attorneys hire "intermediaries" to act as "a bridge" between the defense and victims. Supposedly, these intermediaries can provide victims with information, "meet their needs," and "benefit all parties in the case." But all of this purportedly helpful activity is happening pre-trial, and groups such as the National Association of Prosecution Coordinators have condemned DIVO as just another way for defense attorneys to pry information out of victims and manipulate victims in a way that helps defendants.

The DIVO model is already in use in sate as near as Georgia and Texas, and a defense lawyer was promoting DIVO at a recent conference at Campbell Law School in Raleigh. What’s worse, your federal tax dollars are funding DIVO through the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Capital Case Litigation Initiative.

Last summer the N.C. Victim Assistance Network’s Board of Directors passed a resolution denouncing the DIVO initiative and urging that its public funding be eliminated. NCVAN will continue to monitor DIVO activities here in our state and advocate for fair and honest treatment of victims.

Crime victims have a right to speak with anyone they wish, but all are urged to be very wary of persons who present themselves as "outreach" persons or "victim service intermediaries" hired by the defense. Our adversarial system of justice hasn’t changed. There are persons working to win acquittals for defendants, and there are those trying to convict them. Know who you are talking to, and don’t be misled as to their objectives.

Last Updated December 2009