It is with extraordinary sorrow that – the family of Karin D. Huffer, PhD – announces her passing Wednesday, October 24, 2018, at her home in Colorado after a long and courageous battle with breast cancer. She was 77. She was surrounded by her two sons, Jason and Jordan, her longtime personal assistant, George, and other loved ones.
There is a poem, by Linda Ellis, called “The Dash,” which refers to the dates on a tombstone from the beginning to the end, and explains that what matters most is how one lives and loves, and how one spends their “Dash.”
Dr. Huffer spent her “Dash” tirelessly helping those with mental and physical disabilities attain equal footing in life, and more specifically in the civil and criminal legal systems. As an innovator in her field, she was personally responsible for creating the concept of “Legal Abuse Syndrome” (LAS) for victims who suffered psychological consequences and trauma from prolonged exposure to litigation. As a clinical psychologist and forensic disability expert, Dr. Huffer wrote and lectured extensively on the lingering and long-term psychological effects of dealing with court systems which she observed in her family therapy practice. She personally helped countless numbers of clients during their courtroom struggles, by testifying for equal access, through education and awareness. In this way, Dr. Huffer ensured that the justice system truly captured the ideals for which it should stand: equality and fairness for all.
Her clients often became her good friends even after the work was done. Dr. Huffer could not work with clients on a “professional” basis only. Her heart was too big and her compassion toward others during life’s sometimes cruel turns of betrayal, unfairness, and uphill battles was never exhausted. She was the one who would still listen, comfort and offer help when all other avenues seemed to be hopelessly closed for her clients. Many of her friends and former clients attest that they came back from looking into the abyss because of her gentle encouragement and training.
Her legacy, Equal Access Advocates, was established to develop and provide the training and certification programs and CLE/CEU courses to educate and prepare ADA advocates to help individuals with disabilities negotiate and survive the legal system and the day-to-day challenges of dealing with disability. She published two books, which serve as a foundation for the training. Overcoming the Devastation of Legal Abuse Syndrome, which included an 8-step protocol for helping those undergoing court abuses is still implemented during the training and certification process. Her second book, Unlocking Justice, is a helpful educational and practical textbook guide for mental health professionals, legal practitioners, judges, social workers and clients alike, who are navigating the court system.
Born October 18, 1941 in Pocatello, Idaho to the late Adolph (“Rags”) and Jane Pearson and raised in Shoshone County between the towns of Wallace and Mullan, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Idaho, Moscow. She moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where she earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Dr. Huffer next earned her Doctorate of Counseling and Forensic Psychology from Kings International University, Delaware, and she taught at Clark County School District, Chapman College, La Salle University, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She served as an Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) liaison for special education. She maintained her marriage and family therapy practice with an emphasis on post-traumatic stress, litigation stress, and EMDR treatments. She most recently served as an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York City. Dr. Huffer was most proud of her advocacy work which drew upon her forty years of experience as a counselor in Clark County, Nevada’s behavioral schools along with her private practice which focused on the recognition of post-traumatic stress and the use of ADA accommodations as a means to access and meaningfully participate in litigation. She identified and created the processes and ethical standards by which disabled litigants are able to meaningfully participate in the civil and criminal justice systems pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Dr. Karin Huffer’s life is a testament that you can achieve professional success by pursuing your passion and truly sharing your gifts, talents and love with others. During her long struggle with cancer, Dr. Huffer demonstrated benevolence, resilience, courage, and grace. Countless lives have been touched and transformed by her compassion. She will not only be profoundly missed by her family and many friends, but the entire world.
Karin was the beloved wife of the late James (“JD”) Huffer. She was also preceded in death by her grandmother, Karin Ingeborg Johnson; grandfather, Peter Adolph Pearson; uncle, Conrad Pearson (“Uncle Con”); and dearly beloved dog, Hudson. Karin is survived by her sons, Jason Huffer and Jordan Huffer; cousins, Trudi Brown, Roger Pearson, Debby Niehus; dear friends, Wilene Gremain, Jorge (“George”) Medina, Dr. Corky Strandberg, Meryl Lanson, Susan Breidenbach, Fred Bardelli, Enid McFarland, Lucy James, Jena Larrabee, Danielle Duperret, Grant, Bond, Dior, Duke and Clive Van Der Jagt, Heather Stark, Marc Browne, Gary Tanin, Gordon Hale, Mike Shaffner, Lindsay and Jon Vinnik, Bill and Hannah; and esteemed colleagues, Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD, Philip Zimbardo, PhD, Robert Geffner, PhD, Dagna Van Der Jagt, Esq., Ian Hicks, Esq., Wendy Murphy, Esq., Naureen Shaikh, MD, Barbara Parrett, MS, RN, CNS, Dr. Zena Crenshaw, Dr. Mo Therese Hannah, Donna Andersen, Evan Stark, Lundy Bancroft, Rose Colombo, Shu Bartholomew and Dennis Grover.
A Celebration of Life luncheon is being planned in January 2019 at the Olympian Plaza Reception & Event Center in Colorado Springs, CO. An interment service will be held at the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, FL. All who wish to attend these future events are cordially invited to do so.
In lieu of flowers, an appropriate memorial fund is being established for those who wish to contribute to continue Karin’s life legacy at Equal Access Advocates.
Future, updated versions of obituary forthcoming.