HR Clinic Brings Case to Inter-American Commission

On Friday, March 2, Jessica Lenahan, formerly Gonzales, the mother of three daughters who were abducted by her estranged husband and killed, and whose domestic violence protection claims were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, spoke publicly for the first time before an adjudicating body, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington D.C. The case is Jessica Gonzales v. United States of America.

Read her statement here. (PDF file)

Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Clinic and The American Civil Liberties Union represent Jessica, whose three children were killed when local police refused to enforce a restraining order against her former husband.

Jessica Gonzales filed a lawsuit against the Castle Rock (Colo.) Police Department, but in June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court found that she had no constitutional right to police enforcement of her restraining order. In December 2005, she filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, saying that the inaction of the police and the Supreme Court’s decision violated her human rights.

This is the first time an individual complaint by a victim of domestic violence has been brought against the United States for international human rights violations.


Public hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights,
Jessica Gonzales v. United States of America 


Organization of American States
Salon A, General Secretariat Building
Padilha Vidal Room
1889 F Street, NW
Washington DC 20006 


Friday, March 2, 2007, 10:15 a.m. EST


Jessica Lenahan (formerly Gonzales), co-counsels Caroline Bettinger-Lopez (Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic) and Steven Watt (ACLU Human Rights Working Group) and, Lenora Lapidus (Director, ACLU Women’s Rights Project) will make a statement and be available for questions directly following the hearing.

Cameras of any kind are permitted in the hearing for the first three minutes only; audio recordings are permitted.

The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) will make the audio of all the public hearings that will take place on March 2 available for listening or downloading on the webpage of the IACHR for a limited time. In addition, as part of a pilot project, some of the hearings will be webcast live on the webpage of the OAS. It is our understanding that Jessica Gonzales v. United States of America will be webcasted.

Learn more background on Jessica Gonzales v. United States of America at the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic website.