Miami Law Students Write Comprehensive Analysis of Landmark Lenahan Abuse Case


Averil Andrews and Jenny Khavinson, students in Miami Law's Human Rights Clinic, are the authors of an article in the current issue of Domestic Violence Report about the case of Jessica Lenahan, a Colorado woman whose three daughters were killed in 1999 after they were abducted by her estranged husband. Lenahan's case was ultimately taken up by the Miami Law Human Rights Clinic and that of Columbia Law School, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union.

After her daughters' deaths, Lenahan filed Fourteenth Amendment due-process claims against the Castle Rock, Colo., police, a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, which found that the police had no constitutional duty to enforce a restraining order she had been granted against her husband. Lenahan subsequently filed a complaint against the United States before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, claiming human rights violations by the police for failing to protect her and her children, and human rights violations by the U.S. courts, which failed to provide her with a remedy.

Last August, in Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States of America, the Commission found the United States responsible for human rights violations suffered by Lenahan and recommended changes to U.S. domestic violence law.

The article by Andrews and Khavinson, entitled From International to Domestic Approaches: Battling DV in the United States, describes the Commission's decision in the Lenahan case and offers suggestions as to how lawyers and advocates in the U.S. can use the decision in women's rights, DV, and human rights advocacy.

"We at Miami Law are very proud of Averil and Jenny," said Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and director of the Human Rights Clinic at Miami Law, who was co-counsel on the Lenahan case.