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By David Beatty

National Victim Center

Director of Public Affairs



Upon the tragic death of Frank Carrington in a fire which swept through his home and office in January of 1992, the National Victim Center’s Crime Victims’ Litigation Program lost its founding father and guiding force. But more sadly, the Victims’ Movement lost a hero and friend. In tribute and gratitude, the National Victim Center has officially renamed the program the Carrington Victims’ Litigation Project (CVLP).


Frank’s association with the National Victim Center dates back to 1986 when he first developed the concept for the CVLP. He wanted a program that would support crime victims in their search for justice by providing direct assistance to the attorneys who represent them before the civil justice system. The Civil Justice Database was thus born.


Through five years of painstaking work, Frank amassed more than 4,000 major appellate cases in the area of crime victim litigation. Since Frank’s tragic death, Project attorneys have added another 2,000 cases, bringing the total number of cases in the database to more than 6,000. Access to this unique resource has allowed victim attorneys to conduct exhaustive case research in a fraction of the time and at a small percentage of the cost of research by conventional means.


The Coalition of Victims’ Attorneys and Consultants (COVAC), another Carrington brainchild, was developed as a companion program to the database. It currently stands as the nation’s only referral network of attorneys and consultants with distinct interests and skills relating specifically to litigation on behalf of crime victims. Due in large part to Frank’s foresight, COVAC and its member attorneys now stand poised to usher in a whole new area of specialization for attorneys practicing in the field of civil litigation.


As Director of the CVLP, Frank personally provided information, legal counsel, and support for countless crime victims and their attorneys. Illustrative of the widespread respect for his unmatched knowledge and experience, Frank became known as the “attorney’s attorney” when it came to issues involving crime victims and civil justice.


Despite the endless hours spent reading and analyzing countless cases, Frank always had time to counsel victims and their attorneys. He treated the victims who sought his advice as more than friends; he treated them as family. And many attribute the success of their cases to Frank’s steadfast support and his encouraging exhortation to “Never give up.”

Frank’s contribution to the National Victim Center and the field of victim civil litigation did not end with the CVLP and COVAC programs. Frank co-authored the nation’s only case law book written specifically on the subject, entitled Victims’ Rights: Law and Litigation, and the only manual available for attorneys in the field, the Attorney’s Victim Assistance Manual.


In 1991, as part of a Center project funded by the Office for Victims of Crime in the U.S. Department of Justice, Frank wrote Legal Remedies for Crime Victims Against Perpetrators: Basic Principles. The primary purpose of the manual was to educate social service providers about the basics of civil litigation so they could, in turn, educate crime victims about their rights and remedies within the civil justice system.


This 400 page manual serves as the basis for the Legal Remedies for Crime Victims: Basic Principles Regional Training Series currently being conducted by the Center and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime.


From his days as a law enforcement officer to his service on President Reagan’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, Frank’s legal genius, unflinching dedication, and boundless generosity helped establish and mold the entire movement. Despite the towering contributions he made to the field through a lifetime of legal scholarship, his greatest legacy is the thousands of broken lives he made more livable by helping victims find an alternative path to justice and a new road to recovery.


We cannot hope to replace the man who was the heart and soul of not only a project and a profession, but of an entire movement. We can, however, draw strength from his example and inspiration from his vision. We cannot replace him, but we can attempt to emulate him. We can pledge to pave the road to justice which Frank mapped out and upon which he labored his entire life. The National Victim Center and its staff have made the commitment to carry on Frank’s work, and we aspire to realize the vision he had for the CVLP and COVAC. We are committed to continuing his quest for justice on behalf of crime victims everywhere.


All the achievements of the CVLP and COVAC programs, past and present, rest on the foundation laid by a lifetime of selfless labor. All future achievement will be guided by his vision and inspiration. When our lofty aspirations finally come within our grasp, it will be because we stand on the shoulders of a giant--a giant named Frank Carrington.



Postscript (by Wayne Schmidt)


In addition to serving as Executive Director of the Victims Assistance Legal Organization (VALOR), headquartered in Virginia Beach, he was a Director of the National Organization for Victims Assistance (NOVA), and a member of the California Attorney General’s Commission on Victims. 


Following his service on the U.S. Attorney General’s Task Force on Violent Crime (1981), he was appointed to the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime (1982).  From 1980-82, he was Vice-Chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section’s Victims Committee and was its Chairman in 1982-83 when the ABA approved a comprehensive set of Guidelines for Fair Treatment of Crime Victims and Witnesses.


In his honor, the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section has established the Frank Carrington Crime Victim Attorney Award in 2007. It was awarded to Frank posthumously.



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