Our History and the Legacy of Frank Carrington

Frank G. Carrington is often referred to as the “father of the crime victims’ rights movement in America.”  As a Federal law enforcement official, police legal advisor, and attorney, Mr. Carrington was an early advocate of the rights of crime victims. Publication of his book, The Victims, in 1975, sparked new attention to a neglected area of the criminal justice system. His service on the Attorney General’s Task Force on Violent Crime in 1981 and the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime in 1982 assured expertise on victims’ rights at the highest levels of government. The Final Report of the President’s Task Force continues to serve as the blueprint for the fair treatment of crime victims.

In recognition of his outstanding leadership in the crime victims’ rights movement, Mr. Carrington was given the highest honor that a crime victim advocate can receive – the National Crime Victim Service Award – during a White House ceremony in 1991.  Frank’s association with the National Center for Victims of Crime dates back to 1986, when he first developed the concept that eventually became the National Crime Victim Bar Association. He wanted a program that would support crime victims in their search for justice by providing information sharing and direct technical assistance to the attorneys who represent them in the civil justice system.  Due in large part to Frank’s foresight, the NCVBA and its members have ushered in a whole new area of specialization for attorneys practicing in the field of civil litigation.

Frank was the creator of the Civil Justice Database.  Through five years of painstaking work, he amassed more than 4,000 major appellate cases in the area of crime victim litigation. Since Frank’s tragic death in a fire on January 2, 1992, project attorneys have added another 8,000 cases, bringing the total number of cases in the database to more than 12,000. 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.

As Director of the National Center’s Crime Victim Litigation Project, 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.

Frank’s contribution to the field of victim civil litigation extended beyond his work with the National Center for Victims of Crime. Frank co-authored the nation’s first case law book written specifically on the subject, titled 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 National 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 manual served as the basis for the Legal Remedies for Crime Victims: Basic Principles Regional Training Series.  Frank Carrington led the very first training program in San Diego, California in 1991. This training program became our Civil Justice for Victims of Crime seminars, which have trained thousands of advocates across the country.

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.


Each year the NCVBA recognizes one of its outstanding attorney members for their dedication to helping victims of crime with the Frank Carrington Award. Past winners of the award include: