§ 5–1431.01. Establishment and duties.
(a) There is established a Violence Fatality Review Committee ("Committee") within the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ("OCME"). The OCME shall provide facilities, staffing, and other administrative support for the Committee.
(b) The Committee shall evaluate homicides and suicides.
(c) The Committee's duties shall include:
(1) Identifying and characterizing the scope and nature of homicides and suicides;
(2) Coordinating with other District fatality review entities to minimize duplication of efforts;
(3) Describing and recording any data or patterns that are observed surrounding homicides and suicides;
(4) Performing a retrospective review of socioeconomic determinant risk and protective factors surrounding homicides and suicides;
(5) Developing and revising, as necessary, operating rules and procedures for review of homicides and suicides, including identification of cases to be reviewed, establishment of sub-committees as necessary, and improvement of the identification, data collection, and record keeping of the causes of homicides and suicides;
(6) Recommending systemic improvements to prevent and respond to homicides and suicides;
(7) Recommending policies for improved access to employment, healthcare, mental and behavioral healthcare, housing, and education programs; and
(8) Recommending training to improve the prevention of homicides and suicides and to identify risk factors and develop protective factors in the individual, family, and community response to violence.
(d)(1) By July 1 of each year, the Committee shall make publicly available and submit to the Council and Mayor an annual report of its findings, recommendations, and steps taken to evaluate the implementation of past recommendations, which includes the following information:
(A) A description of the causes of and contributing factors to the homicides and suicides the Committee reviewed during the preceding calendar year;
(B) A description of the state of homicides and suicides, including statistics; and
(C) Recommendations for systemic changes and legislation relating to the prevention of homicides and suicides.
(2) If a recommendation in the annual report is directed at a particular subordinate agency, the head of the subordinate agency shall respond in writing to the Committee within 30 days after the issuance of the annual report, describing the subordinate agency's plans to address the recommendation.
(3) The annual report submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not contain any personally identifiable information but may include aggregated data.
(e) For the purposes of this section, the phrase "homicides and suicides" means homicides and suicides of a person 19 years of age or older:
(1) That occurs in the District; or
(2) Is of District residents, regardless of the place of death.
§ 5–1431.02. Composition of the Committee; procedural requirements.
(a) The Mayor shall appoint one representative from each of the following District agencies:
(1) The Office of the Attorney General;
(2) The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner;
(3) The Metropolitan Police Department;
(4) The Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement;
(5) The Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants;
(6) The Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department;
(7) The Department of Behavioral Health;
(8) The Department of Human Services;
(9) The Department of Health; and
(10) The District of Columbia Housing Authority.
(b) The Mayor shall invite members from federal, judicial, and private agencies or entities with relevant expertise in homicide or suicide cases, to include one representative from each of the following:
(1) The Superior Court of the District of Columbia;
(2) The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia; and
(3) The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency.
(c) The Mayor shall additionally appoint the following members in accordance with § 1-523.01(f):
(1) One representative from each hospital located in the District;
(2) Two representatives from organizations providing hospital-based violence intervention programs;
(3) Two representatives from organizations providing mental and behavioral health services;
(4) One representative from a college or university within the District conducting research in homicide and suicide prevention;
(5) One representative from an organization providing services to secondary victims of homicide or suicide; and
(6) Three community members who are not District government employees.
(d)(1) Members appointed pursuant to subsections (a) and (b) of this section shall serve at the pleasure of the Mayor, or of the entity designating their availability for appointment.
(2) Members appointed pursuant to subsection (c) of this section shall serve a 3-year term and may be removed by the Mayor for cause. Vacancies in membership shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.
(e) The Committee shall select a Chairperson according to procedures set forth by the Committee.
(f) The Committee shall establish quorum and other procedural requirements as it considers necessary.
(g) No member appointed pursuant to subsection (c) of this section shall serve in a hold-over capacity for longer than 180 days after the expiration of the term to which they were appointed.
(h) The Committee may invite other stakeholders to attend or present at any relevant portion of a Committee meeting.
§ 5–1431.03. Access to information.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, immediately upon the request of the Committee and as necessary to carry out the Committee purpose and duties, the Committee shall be provided, without cost and without authorization of the persons to whom the information or records relate to, access to:
(1) All information and records of:
(A) Any District agency, or a District agency's contractors, including birth and death certificates, law enforcement investigation data, unexpurgated juvenile delinquency records and adult criminal records, intellectual and developmental disabilities records, autopsy reports, parole and probation information and records, school records, and records of human services, behavioral health, housing; and
(B) Health agencies that provided services to the victim, the victim's family, or an alleged or suspected perpetrator whose acts led to the death of the victim;
(2) All information and records of any healthcare providers located in the District, including providers of health and mental health services who provided services to the deceased victim, the deceased victim's family, or the alleged or suspected perpetrator whose acts led to the death of the victim;
(3) All information and records of any public or private child welfare agency, educational facility or institution, or child care provider doing business in the District who provided services to the victim, the victim's family, or the alleged or suspected perpetrator whose acts led to the death of the victim; and
(b) The Committee may seek information from entities and agencies outside the District by any legal means available to it.
(c)(1) Notwithstanding subsection (a)(1) of this section, information and records concerning a current law enforcement investigation may be withheld, at the discretion of the investigating authority, if disclosure of the information would compromise a criminal investigation or prosecution.
(2) If information or records are withheld under paragraph (1) of this section, a report on the status of the investigation shall be submitted to the Committee by the investigating authority every 3 months until the earliest of the following events occurs:
(A) The investigation is concluded and the information or records are provided to the Committee; or
(B) The investigating authority determines that providing the information will no longer compromise the investigation and the information or records are provided to the Committee.
(d) All records and information obtained by the Committee pursuant to subsections (a) and (b) of this section pertaining to a deceased victim or any other individual shall be destroyed immediately following the preparation of the Committee's annual report. All additional information concerning a review, except statistical data, shall be destroyed by the Committee one year after publication of the Committee's annual report.
§ 5–1431.04. Subpoena power.
(a) When necessary for the discharge of its duties, the Committee may issue subpoenas to compel witnesses to appear, testify, or produce books, papers, correspondence, memoranda, documents, medical records, or other relevant records.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, subpoenas shall be served personally upon the witness or the witness's designated agent, not fewer than 5 business days before the date the witness must appear or the documents must be produced, by a special process server, at least 18 years of age, engaged by the Committee.
(c) If, after a reasonable attempt, personal service on a witness or a witness's agent cannot be effected, a special process server identified in subsection (b) of this section may serve a subpoena by registered or certified mail not fewer than 8 business days before the date the witness must appear, testify, or produce documents.
(d) If a witness who has been personally summoned neglects or refuses to obey the subpoena issued pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the Committee may report that fact to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and the court may compel obedience to the subpoena to the same extent as witnesses may be compelled to obey the subpoenas of the court.
§ 5–1431.05. Confidentiality of information and proceedings.
(a) Except as provided in this section, information and records obtained or created by the Committee are confidential and not subject to civil discovery or to disclosure pursuant to subchapter II of Chapter 5 of Title 2.
(b) Information and records presented to the Committee for review shall not be immune from subpoena, discovery, or prohibited from being introduced into evidence solely because they were presented to or reviewed by the Committee if the information and records have been obtained through other sources.
(d) A person other than a Committee member who appears before or participates in the Committee's review of homicides or suicides shall sign a confidentiality agreement acknowledging that any information provided to the Committee is confidential; provided, that any such confidentiality agreement shall account for situations where disclosure is necessary for the person to comply with a request for information from the Committee.
(e) Committee meetings shall be subject to subchapter IV of Chapter 5 of Title 2, except that Committee meetings shall be closed when the Committee is discussing cases of individual homicides or suicides or where the identity of any person, other than a person who has expressly consented to be identified, can be ascertained.
(f) Information identifying a victim of homicide or suicide, the victim's family members, or the alleged or suspected perpetrator of the homicide or suicide shall not be disclosed by the Committee in any report that is available to the public.
(g) The Committee may disclose information to other entities when the Committee determines that disclosure is necessary to carry out the Committee's purpose and duties. The Committee may disclose Committee records to another District fatality review committee or board at the request of the District fatality review committee or board, if the other District fatality review committee or board is governed by confidentiality that is substantially similar to the confidentiality by which the Committee is governed.
(h) This section shall not be construed to prohibit a person from:
(1) Disclosing information that the person obtained independently of the Committee; or
(2) Disclosing information that is already public.
§ 5–1431.06. Immunity from liability for providing information to the Committee.
(a) Any person, hospital, or institution participating in good faith in providing information to the Committee pursuant to this chapter shall have immunity from administrative, civil, or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed with respect to the disclosure of the information. In any such proceeding, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the person, hospital, or institution that provided information to the Committee acted in good faith.
(b) If acting in good faith, without malice, and within the parameters of the operating rules and procedures established by this chapter, members of the Committee are immune from civil liability for an activity related to reviews of homicides or suicides, as that term is defined in § 5-1431.01(e).
§ 5–1431.07. Unlawful disclosure of information; penalties.
Whoever knowingly discloses, receives, makes use of, or permits the use of information concerning a victim or other person in violation of this chapter shall be subject to a civil fine of not more than $1,000. Violations of this chapter shall be prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General or the Attorney General's designee in the name of the District of Columbia.