Victim Advocate Spotlight
Sandy has been with our office since July of 2014 and has been a perfect fit for the Victim Notification Legal Assistant position because of her patience, compassion and knowledge. Priority is the name of the game! Sandy analyzes and prioritizes her responsibilities, so that tasks are completed in the most efficient, yet thorough manner. She is empathetic and sympathetic with the victims with whom she interacts. She makes it her goal that victims understand all of the possibilities all the way through a case, and attempts always to explain in whatever manner they are most responsive. She always does what she says she is going to do, whether it be with the many agencies she serves, co-workers or victims. Sandy has worked with prosecutors and others in finding and correcting notification issues which includes changing the wording in letters and restructuring specialty court notification with the advice of the Attorney General’s Office. This year, Sandy has attended trainings that enhance her value with the Coconino County Attorney’s Office including the Fall of 2015 Citizens' Police Academy, APAAC training put on specifically for Victim Services people who work within the County Attorneys' offices, Basic and Advanced victim services training put on by the Attorney General's Office and the Citizens' Academy put on by our office. These trainings have enhanced her ability to stay on top of changing legislation, philosophies and protocols regarding victims and the criminal justice system as a whole. By having this knowledge she is better equipped to answer questions and make sound decisions independently. Sandy is an excellent communicator. She has a strong understanding of the confidentiality of cases involving victims. She consistently presents herself in a caring, respectful manner with everyone including co-workers, attorneys, other agencies and most importantly victims.
Lucero Gonzalez has been serving the community of La Paz County approximately 10 years. She began her career with the La Paz County Attorney’s office as a bilingual (Spanish/English) Victim Advocate in June, 2013. She continues in educating herself through training that is circulated throughout the state of Arizona. Lucero has a passion for her community and strives to better her community each and every day. As a Victim Advocate she believes that she is able to give a voice to those who need spoken for in our community. She has shown that commitment to her community with her outstanding services in diligently assisting each victim through every court process.
Lisette Goodlett began her career with the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office as a bilingual (Spanish /English) Victim Advocate in July, 2002. After serving the residents of Phoenix for five years, she joined the City of Glendale Prosecutor’s Office where she has worked in her present capacity as a Victim Advocate since 2007. Lisette tirelessly serves victims from all walks of life and handles a wide spectrum of criminal offenses, including both domestic violence and non-domestic violence cases. Lisette has a natural ability to comfort those in need, as well as encourage and offer strength to just about everyone she meets. She prides herself in being available to all victims and guiding them through the criminal process as well as the recovery process. She is kind, patient and compassionate, even under the most trying circumstances. Lisette also continues to educate herself on contemporary issues facing victims of criminal offenses, having most recently attended the “AWARE Cyber Safety Training”, hosted by Lifelock and the Arizona Crime Prevention Association. Lisette enjoys the variety that each day brings and strives to make a difference in each victim’s life for the better.
Ana Rodriguez has been with the Victim Services Unit of the Mesa Prosecutor’s Office since 2012. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, she began her career as a Victim Notification Clerk and within 3 years was promoted to Victim Services Assistant. Ana is responsible for helping crime victims better understand the criminal justice system and assisting them with any needs, whether helping to secure an order of protection or injunction against harassment, offering community resources or referrals, providing escort to court hearings or simply following up during and after a case. Ana is bilingual (Spanish/English) and acts as a liaison between the victims and the prosecution and court staffs. She has completed numerous trainings, including Grief Support training through New Song (Hospice of the Valley) and The Sharing Experience through the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. She has devoted many hours of her time to victim causes, including walking Main Street in Mesa last April to recruit businesses and organizations in promoting Victims’ Rights Week. Ana’s dedication, passion and commitment to helping victims makes her a valuable asset to the City of Mesa.
It is with great pleasure that the Mohave County Victim/Witness Program spotlights Betty Munyon, Volunteer Victim Advocate. Betty now volunteers for our Crisis Response Team and Court Advocacy Program, after retiring from the Victims’ Rights Advocate position in June. Betty has dedicated more than 14-years to assisting victims. Her length and level of involvement is shown by the undertaking and improvements she continues to provide these programs. Betty responds 24-hours, 7-days a week to provide immediate crisis intervention and referrals to victims, families, and witnesses after a traumatic event. Betty's devotion to assisting victims and putting their needs first extends even beyond her employment and service in the Victim/Witness Program. She makes it a priority to provide exemplary services to each victim no matter what their circumstances. Betty continues to get involved, stand-up and voice opposition to crime. Her unique passion and commitment has changed the lives of many victims.
Michelle Montijo is a victim advocate in the Child Advocacy Bureau of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Whether it is relating to a pregnant teen or a 6 year old molest victim, Michelle is able to ascertain the needs of the child and family and advocate accordingly. She regularly educates parents about how to talk to their children after abuse has occurred and works with them on empowering and supporting their children throughout the criminal justice process. She has been known to get creative to help ease the anxiety of child victims. In one instance, the young victim froze on the stand. During the break, Michelle invited her to “Shake it Off” Taylor Swift style. This moment of silliness, was exactly what the young girl needed to cope with the anxiety of the moment, break the tension she was feeling and continue her testimony. When victims in the DCS system may not have a parent to advocate for their needs and desires, Michelle stays in communication with them and is a true advocate for their needs. The bottom line is that Michelle cares for each victimized child and his/her family as individuals and treats them in a way that conveys respect and honors their experience.
The City of Phoenix Prosecutor's Office would like to highlight Michelle Cabanillas in Victim Services. Michelle is a Victim Advocate that has been with the office since 1992. Through the years, Michelle has demonstrated that she is a driven professional that encompasses passion for assisting victims of misdemeanor crimes. She has remained diligent in educating herself about community resources, always offering vast information to the victims on her caseload. Although her caseload is large, Michelle never hesitates to take extra time to answer questions thoroughly and efficiently. After receiving this support and assistance from Michelle, victims acquire the necessary tools that they can be used inside and outside of the courtroom. Michelle makes it clear that she is committed to her responsibilities as an Advocate, and she has become a mentor to many in the field.
Esther Juarez- Martinez
Victim Advocate Esther Juarez-Martinez joined the Yuma County Attorney’s Office in 2002. On May 6, 2013, DPS Officer Timothy Huffman was killed while investigating an accident on I-8 east of Yuma. His death was caused by a truck driver distracted while texting on his cellular phone. Esther began advocating on May 20, 2013 and continues on restitution issues following a jury verdict of guilty on 13 counts including negligent homicide. Esther assisted seven family members throughout the United States as well as DPS Officers and first responders endangered at the scene. Officer Huffman’s sister wrote in a satisfaction survey “Esther was a priceless asset to our family in our time of need. She helped us to better understand the system and what was needed/expected of us as victims. We as a family are extremely grateful for Esther. Yuma County has an awesome employee working for the rights of victims.”
Rita Trainor joined the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office in 1998 as a Victim Advocate, and in 2009 assumed the duties of the Crime Victim Compensation Coordinator. Rita is responsible for processing new applications for compensation, and providing this information to the Victim Compensation Board for official ruling. Once approved, Rita reviews and investigates claims for financial assistance, many of which are medical providers. In FY15, Rita processed 43 applications for assistance from victims, and investigated 35 claims per quarter, providing summaries of each claim for Board approval. Once approved by the Board, Rita works with the County’s Finance Department to ensure the victims and service providers receive payment as soon as possible—averaging just a week and a half for payment. Because of Rita’s tenaciousness, attention to detail and commitment to assisting victims, the Victim Compensation Program in Yavapai County paid over $115,000 in claims in FY 2015.
Colleen Phelan, Blake & Russell
Meet Colleen Phelan, Victim Advocate in the Pima County Attorney’s Office (PCAO), and Blake and Russell, Pima County’s Courthouse Dogs. Blake and Russell are fully trained facility dogs from Assistance Dogs of the West (New Mexico). The Courthouse Dog Program is a collaboration of PCAO and the Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center. Courthouse Dogs are trained to assist people during investigation and prosecution of crimes by providing silent comfort and support to children and vulnerable victims and witnesses. Their presence can decrease emotional trauma during stressful criminal justice proceedings by reducing blood pressure, stress, and anxiety. Pima County is part of the growing national movement of prosecutorial agencies throughout the U.S. to incorporate facility dogs to provide support for crime victims. Blake and Russell (and Colleen), who pose no threat, are warmly received by victims. Colleen is the primary handler of Blake, a three-year-old Black Lab, and the secondary handler of Russell, a four-year-old Golden Retriever.