The court stakeholders discussed on this page may be more likely to participate in non-case-related tasks such as training, victim response, and leadership. Because of ethical and procedural considerations, these stakeholders may participate in a limited capacity within task forces. It may be more important for them to participate in specific subcommittees, such as those for outreach and public awareness and for training, and to avoid case-specific and legislative task force activities.
Judge: Convene and Lead
In the courtroom, the judge (or other judicial officer) is expected to lead the proceedings and ensure procedural equality. During the hearing, the judicial officer will ensure that all sides are afforded the same rights and subjected to the same evidentiary limitations throughout the court proceedings. In addition, judges can play significant leadership roles in legal education, community outreach, and public service activities. Judges preside over cases involving human trafficking victims in criminal prosecutions, juvenile court, family administrative hearings, and civil court proceedings. Judicial leadership can have a strong impact on case outcomes, particularly in cases involving human trafficking. The role of the judge goes beyond bench activities and might include tasks such as the following:
Example: District of Columbia Multidisciplinary Protocol for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children
In Washington, DC, the presiding judge of the Family Court convened and led the commercial sexual exploitation of children committee to address court-involved youth at risk of sex trafficking. This collaborative group—composed of the court, probation officers, law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, child welfare officers, and service providers—developed the District of Columbia Multidisciplinary Protocol for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children that outlines the specific roles each member agency plays in identifying, screening, and monitoring cases involving trafficked youth. Click here for more information about DC Protocols.
Defense Attorneys: Identify and Advocate
Defense attorneys and public defenders work with victims of human trafficking who have been accused of crimes. Because these attorneys may be the first court personnel to intercept victim-defendants, they play a vital role in identifying signs of trafficking and advocating on their behalf in court. Specifically, the role of the defense attorney might include the following functions:
Example: Exploitation Intervention Project
In New York City, the Legal Aid Society created the Exploitation Intervention Project within the Midtown Community Court to assist trafficking victims. This defender-based project provides direct representation, comprehensive services, and legal advocacy support.
For additional information, visit Resources Chapter 6.