Last year, Prof. Andrew Budzinski proposed relaxing the rules on service of process in the domestic violence division of the D.C. Superior Court, resulting in the implementation of a temporary amendment through the end of 2021. Budzinski worked to reinstate the amendment as omicron surged, succeeding earlier this month.
“Asking people to personally serve opposing parties is a huge public health risk,” he said, but Budzinski has also illustrated through his scholarship that service of process is a significant access to justice barrier, even absent a pandemic. In a 2019 University of Colorado Law Review article, he argued that electronic service of process – through text, email or social media – protects the petitioner’s safety and right to a hearing on their claim while expanding the respondents’ ability to receive notice of the case. Budzinski has continued to advocate for reexamining rules in pro se courts, with a focus on litigants’ experience of a fair process, or what is known as “procedural justice.”
This advocacy effort was led by Prof. Budzinski with support from Prof. Tianna Gibbs and others in the domestic violence advocacy community in the District of Columbia. Last semester, Gibbs and Budzinski supervised evening students working with survivors of domestic violence in the General Practice Clinic, where they investigated, wrote and successfully argued alternative service motions using this new rule. Prof. Budzinski is now supervising six students in the clinic who are actively working on civil protection order cases. Associate Dean of Experiential and Clinical Program Lindsay M. Harris said, “Prof. Budzinski’s work toward systemic reform while also working with our students to provide much needed legal services to the community and develop our students’ litigation skills through direct client representation is exemplary. Every day we are grateful to have him on faculty setting an incredible example for our students of what both compassionate, zealous advocacy and creating change look like.”