Certain kinds of cases evoke stronger emotions than others. Crimes of violence create passionate responses, especially when they involve the deaths of children. A past, high-profile, Colorado domestic violence case not only made waves in the state, but it made them across the country and across international lines.
According to Reuters, a group called the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has recently spoken out against the way a Colorado case was previously handled in the states. The international group specifically addressed the U.S. Supreme Court’s take on the case, calling the highest court’s ruling a violation of human rights.
What case is at the center of this widespread concern? In 1999, a father reportedly kidnapped his three children from his wife. Prior to the abduction, the wife had obtained a restraining order against her husband, prohibiting him from contacting her or their kids. He took and killed the children, despite the wife’s various calls to her local law enforcement regarding the fact that her husband had violated the restraining order. Officials had not done anything once she reported the abduction to try to step in.
The wife felt that law enforcement violated her rights to protection, and the case ultimately went before the U.S. Supreme Court. She was met with disappointment when the court ruled that enforcing a restraining order was not a Constitutional right. This was more of a civil negligence case, but that discussion does not fit into the scope of this criminal law blog.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights thinks that the Supreme Court’s ruling was a failure of human rights protection. But what does the group’s ruling mean anyway? The ruling doesn’t mean that any action must be taken within the U.S. related the specific Colorado case or any other like cases. The case basically serves the organization as a sort of pedestal to stand on in an effort to promote its cause. Colorado lawmakers who might already be behind creating new domestic violence and restraining order legislation could look at this ruling as support for their cause, but that is for the future to tell.
Reuters, AlertNet: “US Ruling Should Spur Domestic Violence Reform,” Aug. 18, 2011