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Justice and Courage Oversight Panel - April 30, 2014 - Meeting Minutes

Justice and Courage Oversight Panel - April 30, 2014


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

9:00 am – 11:00 am

City Hall, Room 408

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Street

San Francisco, CA 94102

Members Present:

Nancy Kirshner-Rodriguez, Commission on the Status of Women

Emily Murase, DOSW

Antonio Ramirez, POCOVI

Ken Theisen, Bay Area Legal Aid

Beverly Upton, Domestic Violence Consortium


Members Excused:

Chair Andrea Shorter, Commission on the Status of Women

Kathy Black, La Casa de Las Madres

JaMel Perkins, Partners Ending Domestic Violence


Other Attendees/Speakers:

Amy Ackerman, Commission on the Status of Women; Maria Bee, Director, Victim Witness Unit, District Attorney’s Office; Assistant District Attorney Liz Aguilar-Tarchi; Staci Lambright, Bay Area Legal Aid; Captain Joseph McFadden, SFPD Special Victims Unit; Lt. Trenia Wearing, San Francisco Police Department; Minouche Kandel, Grace Fisher and Iris Wong, Department on the Status of Women.


  1. Call to Order/Agenda Changes

Nancy Kirshner-Rodriguez called the meeting to order in place of Commissioner Andrea Shorter who was in Washington, DC. The Oversight Panel approved the agenda with no changes. (Theisen/Upton/unanimous)


  1. Approval of Minutes

The minutes from November 6, 2013 were approved without objection. (Theisen/Upton/unanimous)


  1. First Review of Draft Final Evaluation of Justice & Courage Oversight Panel

Dr. Murase recognized key individuals in the audience, including Commissioner Amy Ackerman who, when she was at the City Attorney’s Office, wrote up the City’s investigation into the Claire Joyce Tempongko domestic violence homicide that occurred in 2000; Assistant District Attorney Liz Aguilar-Tarchi who prosecuted the Claire Joyce Tempongko case successfully; Director Maria Bee of the District Attorney’s Victim Witness Unit who worked closely with the Tempongko family before, during, and after the court proceedings; and Police Captain Joseph McFadden who served in the Domestic Violence Response Unit and worked the Tempongko case.

Minouche Kandel introduced Department Policy Fellow Grace Fisher who dedicated the past 4 months to researching and writing the report. Ms. Fisher’s background in working on advocacy issues as an undergraduate at Yale University and her work in women’s issues at Oxford where she completed a master’s in evidence-based social interventions made her highly qualified to conduct this study.

Ms. Fisher introduced the report, explaining that today’s focus was to get feedback from the Oversight Panel. A revised report will be available for the Panel to review in advance of the next meeting, scheduled for June 4.

The Oversight Panel provided the following feedback. Ms. Upton proposed inviting Fiona Ma and Susan Leal to write a letter of reflection for the final evaluation. She also noted that the introduction had a lot of language around CEDAW.

The Panel Members agreed that the 14 categories of the report were a logical structure. Mr. Ramirez suggested creating an “Areas for Further Research” section to encompass the gaps that are not addressed by the work of Justice and Courage. This section could focus on the intersectional nature of domestic violence and substance abuse, homelessness, and technology.

Ms. Fisher asked the group for suggestions on the best method for indicating that the Oversight Panel has made significant advancements on a recommendation, but that there is still more work to be done.  There was a proposal to create a designation status “Substantial Progress” to address this issue. The Oversight Panel supported this proposal and noted that it is important to emphasize that the work of Justice and Courage is not completed.

In response to Ms. Fisher’s question about Interagency recommendation 13, the Oversight Panel came to the consensus that this item should be labelled “Substantial Progress.” Ms. Kirshner-Rodriguez noted that state resources have diminished and San Francisco is working to compensate for that reduction. Ms. Upton added that federal grants have also diminished.

Mr. Theisen underscored the high cost of living in San Francisco as another point to be mentioned in the report. He added that turn-aways from domestic violence shelters are also a concern. Dr. Murase proposed that future work could focus on lowering the turn-away rates. She also raised the issue of using an uniform definition of domestic violence across the City and educating the community about the warning signs.

Ms. Fisher posed another question to the group regarding number 14 of the interagency recommendations and the varying states of completeness for different criminal justice agencies. The Oversight Panel acknowledged that court budget cuts may impact domestic violence cases, and particularly the provision for interpreters in Civil and Family court.  Currently in San Francisco, interpreters are being provided in these cases.  Similarly, there is still a continued need for language proficient first responders. Ms. Upton reported that Tagalog was just certified as the third City language to be used in all San Francisco services communications.

Liz Aguilar-Tarchi noted that she has worked closely with Assistant Chief Marshal Khine and Captain McFadden to ensure that they are working towards fulfilling the Justice and Courage recommendations. She acknowledged that there is still work to be done, but a great deal of progress has been accomplished.

The Oversight Panel deemed recommendation 14 to be substantial progress.

Mr. Theisen raised the concern about inter-county response to domestic violence cases. Domestic violence is not confined by city or county limits, and it is important to ensure that cases do not slip through the gaps. Ms. Upton reported that the Domestic Violence Consortium is currently working with the Police Department to create a referral list for the 9 Bay Area counties.

Captain McFadden provided public comment to address this concern. He noted that the Police Department has written protocols for interacting with other counties and reporting cases in other jurisdictions. He added that he would like to see a coordinated public response and statements from public officials regarding domestic violence cases.

The Oversight Panel acknowledged that more work needs to be done to raise public awareness of domestic violence cases.

Ms. Fisher asked the Panel members if trainings to reduce burn-out and secondary trauma of criminal justice agency staff have been conducted, as per interagency recommendation 11. Ms. Upton responded that the Laura Vandernoot Lipsky’s  “Trauma Stewardship” workshops have been available to a broad City audience for the past two years. The Panel judged this recommendation to be substantial progress.

Ms. Fisher also asked the Panel Members for clarity around interagency recommendation 34. The recommendation refers to convening a “local dialogue group” between specific agencies to discuss accountability. The Oversight Panel responded that conversations around this issue have occurred. For example, the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence holds webinars on this topic.  However, the Panel did not fulfill this recommendation. The group regarded this recommendation as incomplete.

The Oversight Panel members asked for a list of the incomplete and in progress items to be created. This will serve as a guideline for the future work through the Family Violence Council. Ms. Kirshner-Rodriguez proposed that the Panel could utilize the technology community to produce innovative resources and solutions for these recommendations.

Commissioner Ackerman provided public comment. She asked that the report acknowledge Louise Renne and Blanche Blackman. She also reiterated the usefulness of a definitions section to clarify the status demarcations. Ms. Ackerman supported the suggestion that Panel members write letters of reflections on their experience as a part of Justice and Courage. She proposed that the report could be the background for important policy work to institutionalize these lessons. Ms. Ackerman also raised the issue of sexual violence on college campuses as an avenue for future efforts.

Ms. Aguilar-Tarchi also provided public comment. She asked that the final evaluation acknowledge the courage of the Tempongko family for championing this cause. The Oversight Panel thanked Ms. Aguilar-Tarchi for her impressive work on Ms. Tempongko’s case and proposed including a special dedication to the Tempongko family and an appendix with further details of the case.

The Oversight Panel discussed the transition to the Family Violence Council, proposing the creation of a Justice and Courage subcommittee. The group agreed that meeting in between the Family Violence Council meetings would provide the opportunity for the specific work related to Justice and Courage.


  1. Announcements

Dr. Murase announced that the Mother’s Day Press Conference will be held on May 9th, 1 pm, on the City Hall Steps.


  1. Public Comment

Maria Bee agreed that the Family Violence Council was a good fit for the continuation of Justice and Courage.


  1. Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 11:09 a.m. (Theisen/Upton/unanimous)



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