May 18, 2021
Weil secured a complete trial victory for our pro bono client in a Hague Convention proceeding brought by her husband in the Southern District of New York. Our client, asserting that she was a victim of domestic violence in Morocco, fled with her daughter in 2018 and came to the United States, where she applied for asylum. Claiming that the child had been kidnapped, her husband brought the proceeding under the Hague Convention’s provision regarding the unlawful abduction of children, seeking an order that would force the return of the child to Morocco.
Following a two-and-a-half week bench trial (over Zoom), Magistrate Judge Lehrburger issued a 96-page opinion denying the husband’s petition and holding that our client had met her burden to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that returning the child to Morocco would expose the child to a “grave risk” of harm. Most importantly, the judge found that our client was indeed a victim of domestic violence (rejecting the husband’s steadfast denials); that the child was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of having witnessed her father’s physical, emotional and psychological abuse of our client; and that the child’s trauma would worsen if she were forced to return to Morocco.
The matter was referred by Sanctuary for Families, New York’s leading service provider and advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking and related forms of gender violence.