Let Justice Be Done

Posted on March 19th, 2013 by Lauren Gutterman

The Second Circuit is urged to protect a four-year-old child and his mother facing domestic violence, abduction to Iran and human rights violations upon forced repatriation under the Hague Convention.

By Jane Kim and Dorchen Leidholdt

If ever there was a case of grave risk of harm to a child or of violations of human rights compelling a U.S. court to protect the safety and life of a child under the international treaty known as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction—this is it.

Center for Battered Women's Legal Services director Dorchen Leidholdt

Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services director Dorchen Leidholdt

On March 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will hear argument on whether U.S. courts should force vulnerable children to return to countries where they will be exposed to severe domestic violence, despite the established defenses enumerated under the Hague Convention. Specifically, the Second Circuit will decide if a volatile combination of a child’s exposure to severe domestic violence perpetrated by his father against his mother, the abusive father’s scheme to permanently abduct the child from Singapore to Iran and the child’s inevitable loss of his mother upon repatriation constitute “a grave risk of physical or psychological harm” to the child.

Imagine this. You are a Malaysian citizen living with permanent residency in Singapore. You marry an Iranian Muslim man who owns a lucrative international security business. A month into your marriage, he starts to physically, sexually and psychologically abuse you. He slaps you, kicks you, drags you around the house by your hair, chokes you and beats you. He rapes you. He tries to control you, blame you, isolate you from your friends and family, and he makes you quit your job. He threatens to kill you. You give birth to your beautiful baby son—and now, instead of one victim, there are two. The abuse does not stop. You ask the police for help. You file no less than five police reports, but the police refuse to intervene.

Terrified, you leave. You flee your home with your son, but the abuse continues and escalates.

Your batterer repeatedly threatens to permanently take your son to Iran. Unbeknownst to you, your batterer surreptitiously obtains Iranian citizenship for you and your son, placing your Malaysian citizenship and Singapore residency status in jeopardy. To protect you and your son from the ongoing abuse, you again seek the protection of the judicial system and file for sole custody. But, in a twisted turn, the judicial system that is supposed to protect you instead reveals itself to be a complicated maze that ultimately leaves you at the mercy of religious courts—the Syariah courts of Singapore, Malaysia and Iran—where your word as a woman is presumptively afforded less weight than that of your male batterer, and where your batterer has exposed you to loss of custody and the death penalty for your purported abandonment of Islam, a crime called apostasy in Malaysia.

This is only a piece of Jenni’s heart-wrenching story.

In May 2012, Jenni fled with her son from their abuser to her uncle’s home in the United States. Her batterer soon followed, hiring private investigators to track her down, and filing a petition for return of the child under the Hague Convention in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The purpose of the Hague Convention, to which the United States is a party, is to protect the safety, rights, and life of the child; it is not to embolden battering husbands or force the return of domestic violence victims to continued abuse. Under Articles 13(b) and 20 of the Convention, a U.S. court is authorized to deny the return of a child if it finds that such a return would create a “grave risk of physical or psychological harm” to the child, or if it finds that the return would be inconsistent with the “fundamental freedoms and human rights” of the United States. It is widely accepted—by federal appellate and district courts as well as by domestic violence and child welfare experts—that a history of violence or spousal domestic violence can constitute grave risk of harm.

In a decision that shocks the conscience, in December 2012, the district court granted the abusive father’s petition and ordered the return of Jenni’s son to Singapore. The district court’s decision was based on profoundly erroneous misapprehensions about the fundamental nature of domestic violence. Domestic violence is about power, control and domination of the victim by the perpetrator, it escalates post-separation, victims minimize their abuse, and children profoundly suffer from witnessing domestic violence. Despite these widely accepted facts, the district court concluded that this was not a case of an “obsessed or jilted lover” and that the domestic violence in this case would not continue because the parties would not “cohabit.” The district court also concluded that Jenni was a “willing participant” in her own sexual abuse and rape.

On February 22, 32 domestic violence and child welfare experts, law clinics and organizations submitted amicus briefs urging the Second Circuit to reverse the district court’s shocking and profoundly misguided decision, which flies in the face of federal precedent and long-standing expertise and literature from the field.

Jenni and her son are now at the mercy of another judicial system: ours. On March 13, the Second Circuit will have the opportunity to provide protection and justice to Jenni, her four-year-old son, and to victims and survivors of domestic violence by reversing a gravely misguided decision and dismissing this abusive husband’s petition for the return of Jenni’s vulnerable four-year-old son to Singapore.

Jane Kim is an associate in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher‘s New York office. Dorchen Leidholdt is the director of the Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services at Sanctuary for Families in New York. Kim, Leidholdt and Randy Mastro—a partner and co-chairman of the litigation department at Gibson, Dunn in New York, as well as former deputy mayor to Rudolph Giuliani—are pro bono counsel for Lee Jen Fair. The case before the Second Circuit is Souratgar v. Fair, No. 12-5088-cv.


Reprinted with permission from the March 11, 2013 edition of THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL © 2013 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. For information, contact 877-257-3382, reprints@alm.com or visit www.almreprints.com. #005-03-13-15.


  1. Questions To the Columbia University Community.

    Columbia Law School Alumni Justice Laura Drager is the Most Notorious Judge in the Country, For Destroying Innocent Women and Children, in lieu of a Rich Power Broker Litigant. Judge Drager is known as the CEO of New York’s Divorce Company, and unlawfully seizes Assets of Decent Women, for Profit.

    My Question to the Columbia University Community and the FBI is: If Judge Laura Drager’s Assisted and Enabled a Powerful and Rich Male Litigant’s to Filing a Fraudulent Bankruptcy Petition… to defraud a wife of her assets…is this a crime?

    My Question Is Based On the Following:

    1. If Judge Drager was given a notrarized ‘sworn to” federal document stating definitively that the male litigant is “parking” $750,000 in someone elses name,

    2. and Judge Drager also knows that the male litigant had/has another $500-700,000 in cash from selling artwork deliberately excluded from the Male Litigant’s Net Worth Statement submitted to Judge Drager Court,

    3.and the Male Litigant owns a company with 5 offices around the world as per Bloomberg Business Week,

    4. and the Male Litigant owns two Mercedes Sports Cars and a Race Care Which Was Purchased right before declaring bankruptcy,

    5.and the Male Litigant also buys $100,000 Benz during the Bankruptcy,

    6.and the Male Litigant Spent Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars vacationing with a friend in South Beach Florida, and skiing in the Alps and partying all over the world prior and during the Bankruptcy and Judge Drager knew about it

    7. and the Male Litigant Spent thousands of dollars starting a new company by diverting funds from the original company of which the wife was 50% Shareholder and a company which she primarily financed,

    8. and the Judge Drager knew that the Male Litigant unlawfully pocketed/stole $2 million of his wife’s Court Ordered Money from her eviction fire sale of her apartment, in a separate room at the closing with all of the Judge Drager Lawyers in attendance including the Judge’s most favorite crooked lawyer Raoul Felder, while Judge Drager threw an innocent Mom and three shell-shocked children out onto the street for a mere $17,000 in maintenance costs on a virtually mortgage-free apartment, which the first Judge said should be remedied by taking out a simple home-equity loan,

    9. and Judge Drager knew that the “male litigant” had conservatively $4-5 million in cash on hand while filing a Federal Bankruptcy Petition, where his primary creditors were his 90 year old mother, his sister, his brother-in-law and his pool guy, and the debt was for at most $75,000

    10. and Judge Drager had statements in Chinese showing that the male litigant had moved even more money to China and had Chinese Bank Accounts

    11. and Judge Drager was given a copy of the “male litigants” hand-written diaries stating a good portion of his deals that closed during the time he filed a fraudulent bankruptcy petition, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars of which the “male litigant” became very rich

    12. and Judge Drager Orchestrated an arrangement with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher to tank the “female litigant’s” claims in the bankruptcy by not filing documents on time, irrespective of the fact that Gibson Dunn represented the “male litigant’s” business partners while representing the wife, so Judge Drager could eliminate 3 years of unpaid child support, 5 years of all Court Ordered expenses, in the next Court Date

    13. and Judge Drager worked on behalf of the “male litigant” by calling the Bankruptcy trustee and Bankruptcy Judge to lobby on the “male litigants” behalf, even though the “male litigant was Filing a Fraudulent Federal Bankruptcy Petition and Committing Bankruptcy Fraud…

    Has Judge Laura Drager Committed a Crime?

    If someone has an answer to my question, it would be appreciated. Thank you

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