MARSHA H. NEIFIELD, a Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge for over 17 years, has been President Judge since election by her peers in 2009. Judge Neifield is a role model for the legal community and a reminder to those who work in public interest law the difference that one individual’s efforts can make. She has demonstrated a remarkable ability to build networks, solve problems and provide creative leadership. The first woman to serve as President Judge of Philadelphia Municipal Court, she has implemented numerous collaborative efforts to address unmet community needs and advance social justice, and has reformed court procedures to better promote fairness and efficiency.
In the Civil Division of the Court, Judge Neifield helped establish the Landlord-Tenant Legal Help Center, in partnership with the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Civil Gideon and Access to Justice Task Force and other community groups. In the Criminal Division, she served on the Arraignment Court Magistrate and Criminal Rules Committees and was instrumental in developing procedures centralizing the mental health program as well as streamlining protracted cases. Judge Neifield is currently working with the Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office to rebuild the shared PARS system, which processes individuals from arrest through preliminary arraignment. Similarly, building on the model of Philadelphia Drug Treatment Court, which began in 1997, Municipal Court now has a remarkable variety of community partnership, problem-solving programs and alternatives to traditional prosecution tracks, while remaining steadfast concerning public safety. Since Judge Neifield began her leadership role, the court initiated a Veteran’s Court and a Small Amount of Marijuana (SAM) Diversion Program, and expanded its use of technology in Crash Court (for prisoners who have been unable to make bail). In 2010, Judge Neifield worked with criminal justice partners to pilot a community-based diversionary program, using a restorative approach to give criminal defendants charged with lesser offenses the tools to improve their lives, avoid a conviction and reduce recidivism. This program, which became known as the Alternative Misdemeanor Program (AMP), expanded citywide after only a few months. As a leader who not only works behind the scenes but also leads by example, Judge Neifield manages her duties as President Judge while presiding over Project Dawn Court (for women charged with prostitution), Mental Health Court, Domestic Violence Court and The Choice is Yours program, which offers nonviolent drug offenders the opportunity to participate in a life skills and job training program resulting in the dismissal of charges upon successful completion.
Judge Neifield’s experiences with both defendants and complainants give her unique insight into the need for programs that address crime and its underlying causes. The pressing problems of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic violence, for example, have led to particularly innovative programming. In Project Dawn Court (PDC), women who have been arrested for prostitution, who are often marginalized by society, are treated with dignity and respect and provided access to trauma treatment, housing and ancillary services that emphasize therapy for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and/or human trafficking. Judge Neifield’s work in PDC has involved promoting community awareness concerning commercial sexual exploitation, improving relationships with local law enforcement, and enhancing treatment services by supporting trauma and mental health first-aid initiatives. The program has been remarkably successful and serves as a model for other communities. Seeing the need to also address the demand side, Judge Neifield worked collaboratively to introduce the Sexual Education and Responsibility (SER) program, which was launched in 2011. SER was developed as a first-time offender program that educates individuals arrested for patronizing prostitutes about the realities of prostitution, sexual assault, communicable diseases and various forms of human trafficking. The fees collected through the SER program are used to fund ongoing survivor services for a program used by many PDC women. Judge Neifield has made similarly important contributions to domestic violence response. In addition to presiding in Domestic Violence Court, she led the effort in 2014 to collectively establish a Domestic Violence Diversion Court, which helps to break the cycle of domestic violence by providing treatment and accountability for misdemeanor-level abusers.
A graduate of Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, Judge Neifield serves on the advisory boards of Villanova’s Commercial Sexual Exploitation Institute and two drug treatment programs. She is a member of the Criminal Inn of Court, as well as the Temple American Inn of Court, where she serves on the board. Prior to her election to the Municipal Court bench, Judge Neifield was a Public Defender in Bucks County and Philadelphia and a criminal and civil litigator in private practice. The Legal Intelligencer named Judge Neifield one of its 2012 Women of the Year. She and her husband, Alan Folkman, have one daughter, Marni.
SALLY F. GOLDFARB Two decades ago, when President Bill Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into federal law, Rutgers Law School Professor Sally F. Goldfarb was there for the signing ceremony. Professor Goldfarb played a key role in the creation of the act, which was the first federal law to address the problems of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other types of gender-motivated violence. VAWA authorized new legal penalties for domestic violence and sexual assault; provided funds to assist victims, non-profit organizations, police, and prosecutors; improved enforcement of domestic violence restraining orders; established a national toll-free domestic violence hotline; amended the federal rules of evidence to restrict the admission of evidence concerning a victim’s prior sexual activity; and reformed immigration law to protect immigrants who are victims of violence.
Professor Goldfarb helped to draft VAWA, including the section declaring a federal civil right to be free from gender-motivated violence. After the Supreme Court invalidated the civil rights provision in 2000, Professor Goldfarb has worked closely with federal government officials and others in efforts to restore this important legislation. She has also assisted with periodic reauthorizations of VAWA, which have strengthened and expanded the statute.
In addition, Professor Goldfarb conceived of, founded, and chaired the National Task Force on the Violence Against Women Act, the first broad-based national coalition to advocate for legal and policy reform on issues of violence against women. After mobilizing to support passage of VAWA, the National Task Force has continued its vital mission and remains active today.
Twenty years after the original enactment of VAWA, in recognition of her work on this landmark statute, Professor Goldfarb was selected by the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence as a recipient of its 20/20 Vision Award, presented at the American Bar Association annual meeting in August. She was also invited to the White House for a summit on civil rights and equal protection for women.
Working to advance women’s rights has been a lifelong professional pursuit for Professor Goldfarb. Before joining the Rutgers University faculty in 1995, she was a senior staff attorney at the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (now known as Legal Momentum) in New York City. Previously, she worked as a judicial clerk in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin; as a Georgetown University Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C.; and as an assistant attorney general in the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Professor Goldfarb has presented testimony on violence against women before the United States Congress and state legislatures. Her expertise on this issue is recognized at the international level. On three occasions, she has been a member of Expert Groups on violence against women convened by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women or UN Women.
Professor Goldfarb has participated in many academic symposia and is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on violence against women, family law, sex discrimination, and other topics. Several of her publications have been excerpted in casebooks that are used at law schools throughout the country. Most recently, she co-authored a book chapter on violence against women and children as an international human rights violation. She has served on a number of boards and commissions, including the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Women in the Courts, the Board of Advisers for the American Law Institute’s Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution, and the Child Custody Committee of the American Bar Association Family Law Section.
At Rutgers Law School, Professor Goldfarb teaches family law, sex discrimination, and torts. An enthusiastic and engaging teacher, she has won four teaching awards at Rutgers. She has served as faculty adviser to the Rutgers Law Journal, Law Students for Reproductive Justice, and Outlaws.
Professor Goldfarb has also taught at Harvard University, New York University, and University of Pennsylvania law schools. She graduated summa cum laude from Yale College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and received her law degree from Yale Law School.
THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROGRAM was started in 1995 when Diana Avella, Camden’s first Coordinator of Pro Bono Programs and Public Interest Advising, in collaboration with the Family Law Section of the Camden County Bar Association, created the Domestic Violence Project. In 1996, Anne Mallgrave ’88 became the project’s first supervising attorney, followed in 2000 by Professor Ruth Anne Robbins. Throughout the Project’s twenty year history, trained law students have volunteered for shifts at the Camden County courthouse to provide legal information to people seeking restraining orders, meeting with between 350 and 700 people each year. The Project, for the past several years again directed by Professor Mallgrave, also distributes our “Protecting Yourself: Domestic Violence Information Handbook,” a booklet written by students with Professors Mallgrave and Robbins and regularly revised and updated. The booklet includes information on safety planning, how to prepare for a final restraining order hearing and what relief may be awarded pursuant to a FRO. The appendix includes domestic violence wheels (including the cycle of violence) and a list of resources/agencies in the area.
Project students offer the booklet to every plaintiff they meet with at the courthouse and use it as a tool when speaking with them. We also give copies of the booklet to all of the agencies in the county who work with victims of domestic violence, including the Camden County Women’s Center, Domestic Violence Response Teams, Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Victim/Witness Advocates office, Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Center for Family Services, SERV (Sexual Assault Victims) and numerous police departments, who report that it is a remarkably helpful resource for the public. The Project currently distributes approximately 1200 booklets a year. In addition to IOLTA funds and Philbrook proceeds, a gift from alumna Deborah McCracken, '92 assists with booklet printing and enables the Project to employ two students as student leaders.
During its early years, the Project referred plaintiffs with pressing needs for pro bono legal representation to a panel of volunteer attorneys from the Family Law Section, including Susan A. Lowden, ’90 and E. Allen Nickerson, ‘ 66, both of whom were honored at the 2001 Philbrook Award Celebration for their outstanding and invaluable work with the Project. Over the years, South Jersey Legal Services and the Camden Center for Law and Social Justice have also provided assistance. In January 2003, Professor Ruth Anne Robbins started the Domestic Violence Clinic, under the supervision of Clinic Director Alice Dueker. Professor Victoria Chase joined the clinic in August 2004 and is now the program director. In the clinic, student teams, under the supervision of their professors, represent clients at Final Restraining Order hearings, help staff the Domestic Violence Project, and may assist in appellate litigation and consultation with the legislature and other policy makers about pending issues in domestic violence law. In 2005, Professors Chase and Robbins created the Advanced Domestic Violence Clinic to allow graduates of the clinic to continue representation of their clients and handle more challenging matters, such as the enforcement of restraining orders and other post judgment relief and family law and child custody issues arising in a domestic violence context. The Clinic and Advanced Clinic serve about 70-80 people per year, with about 50 of those individuals receiving direct representation or other services beyond advice and counsel at the court house). In addition to Camden County, these two clinics serve Burlington, Gloucester and, on occasion, Atlantic Counties.
The Domestic Violence Program also includes other curricular offerings, including Professor Freedman’s course on Family Violence and the Law and Professor Schalick’s Child Abuse and Neglect Law, both of which are also part of the Law School’s new Family Law Certificate Program. The Program also sponsors interdisciplinary conferences on domestic violence and sexual assault, and provides trainings on an ongoing basis to members of the domestic violence service community, including police officers, shelter advocates, and municipal crisis intervention team members. Collaborations with the Camden County Domestic Violence Working Group, the Victim-Witness Advocates at the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, the Camden Center for Law & Social Justice, and the Camden County Crisis Response Teams have been particularly fruitful.
Professor Robbins is the co-author, with Judge Angelo DiCamillo and Michael Abatemarco, of New Jersey Domestic Violence Practice and Procedure, first published in 2002, the leading reference work on the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, with a 4th edition coming in 2016. Over the years, Professors Chase, Freedman, Goldfarb, Schalick and Robbins have provided advice to New Jersey legislators on domestic violence, child abuse and neglect and sexual assault issues, including the pending Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act, and the possibility of expanding the right to civil counsel to domestic violence cases.