On September 23-24, two FLU attorneys, Associate Director Lisa Rivera, and Christina Brandt-Young, led presentations at the NYS Bar Association’s 2008 Legal Assistance Partnership Conference in Albany, NY, a biennial conference that unites hundreds of nonprofit legal services workers from around the state.

This year’s conference was organized around the theme of “Justice in a Challenging Time,” and included presentations on topics in public benefits, family law, consumer law, housing, and immigration.

Lisa Rivera co-facilitated a workshop on using evidence effectively in custody litigation. She presented on substantive issues concerning the complex rules of evidence at play when litigating custody cases, and led an interactive problem-solving session for lawyers in attendance to examine strategies and develop solutions.

Joining Ms. Rivera in facilitating the presentation were Susan Griffith of the Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society in Syracuse and Emily Ruben of the Legal Aid Society of Brooklyn.

Appellate attorney Christina Brandt-Young, together with Caroline BettingerLopez, Deputy Director of the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School, and Steve Watt of the ACLU, co-presented on the use of international human rights law in civil domestic violence litigation.

Ms. Brandt-Young presented on strategies for arguing that domestic family offenses constitute violations of internationally recognized human rights. Ms. Bettinger-Lopez explained how international human rights law may be applied directly to domestic violence cases. She presented on a domestic violence case, Gonzalez vs. United States, that she has helped bring to the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights.

The case is an attempt to argue that Congress’ support and enforcement of the Violence Against Women Act does not adequately protect American domestic violence victims’ internationally-recognized human rights.

NYLAG’s Domestic Violence Clinical Center and the University of Texas School of Law co-authored an amicus brief that was submitted in conjunction with 12 amici to the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights on behalf of Ms. Gonzales in her petition against the United States.

In 2005, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Ms. Gonzalez could not recover relief under the U.S. Constitution when local Colorado police failed to answer her calls to enforce her order of protection, and thereby failed to prevent her ex-husband from killing their three daughters.

NYLAG was asked to file an amicus brief at the IAC by Ms. Gonzales’s attorneys at the ALCU. The brief argues that Congress’ support and enforcement of the Violence Against Women Act is not a defense to violation of American domestic violence victims’ human rights. For a copy of the brief go to http://www.aclu.org/pdfs/womensrights/gonzales_benefits_20081017.pdf