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August 8, 2013

Professor Merle Weiner’s busy summer

Congressional briefings, op-eds, and Supreme Court cases. To say Oregon Law Philip H. Knight Professor of Law Merle Weiner had a busy summer is an understatement.

The work of Weiner, considered an expert on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, is being used nationally and internationally in determining the outcomes of child abduction cases, especially as they pertain to domestic violence. 

Most recently, Weiner has been involved with two international abduction cases litigated in New York: Lozano v. Alvarez and Broca v. Giron. Both cases involved the removal of children by a parent who alleged she was the victim of domestic violence. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the right way in both cases. Its decision in Lozano references Weiner's writing in its ruling. The Supreme Court granted a petition for certiorari in the Lozano case and Weiner is currently working on an amicus brief that will be submitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Earlier in the summer, Professor Weiner co-authored an op-ed for the Miami Herald on international abductions. The op-ed lauded Japan's recent legislation that asks judges to consider the risk of domestic violence to the "abductor" parent when returning the child to the "left-behind" parent.

Shortly after the op-ed was published, Weiner chaired a Congressional briefing on the intersection of domestic violence and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Her two-hour panel was introduced by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Representative Chris Smith, and was attended by approximately 100 people. After the event, Weiner agreed to draft amendments to the International Child Abduction Remedies Act for consideration by the Congresswoman.

Weiner also participated earlier in the summer in the Uniform Law Commission's drafting session for the new Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. The new Act is incorporating the provisions of the 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children.

Weiner has been working to share her passion about these topics with others. During this same time, and by invitation, Weiner managed to publish a short article for advocates and practitioners in the Summer Bulletin of the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. She also agreed to co-produce a panel titled "Domestic Violence Allegations in International Family Cases," that will be part of a larger CLE sponsored by the Family Law Committee of the ABA Section of International Law, in June 2014, in Seattle.

Her work has not gone unnoticed. She recently was invited to present a paper on the Hague Abduction Convention in England next summer for the Journal of Comparative Law (UK), and she has accepted the invitation. She also was asked to contribute to the International Society for Family Law's newsletter with a column on international developments in family law.

In late July, Weiner was appointed to the Oregon Department of Justice Crime Victims' Services Division Victim Response Section Advisory Committee. This is an active board that advises the DOJ/CVSD on the administration of the Victims of Crime Act, the STOP Violence Against Women Act, the Sexual Assault Services Program, the Oregon Domestic and Sexual Violence Services Fund, and the Criminal Fine Account. Weiner has already attended two meetings of this group.

In her spare time, Weiner has been busy advising students and going to trainings to improve her own knowledge. She has supervised one law student and two Conflict and Dispute Resolution graduate students working on their theses. She also has attended two trainings related to representing domestic violence victims; they were on trauma-informed care and teen protection orders.

Apart from all of this other activity, Weiner has been presenting papers and writing furiously. Weiner presented a paper at the International Society of Family Law conference in Brooklyn, New York, titled "Caregiver Payments: Fairness as a Principle to Promote Family Harmony." She also completed her book manuscript, Pink and Blue Cement: The Status of Parent-Partner, and will be submitting it to publishers shortly.

She reports, "This has been a very big project and it feels great that it is finally ready to go out the door. I hope that the book will help people think about family law and family relationships differently." While her book project moves forward, Weiner is working on updating her casebook, Family Law in the World Community, which will be going into its third edition next year.

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