Pro Bono Client Wins Second Circuit Appeal in Hague Child Abduction Case

April 20, 2023

Cleary Gottlieb represented D.Z., the mother and appellee, in the win of an appeal on April 20, 2023, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention) proceeding.

Following a three-day evidentiary trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in July 2022, in which petitioner G.B. requested return of their two children to Canada, the court ruled in respondent D.Z.’s favor, finding there would be a grave risk of harm should the children be returned to Canada. The court based this holding on, among other things, the petitioner’s “long and serious history of untreated mental health issues” and “history of angry and manipulative behavior.” Subsequently, on September 12, 2022, the petitioner filed an appeal seeking to expand the evidentiary record and arguing that the holding should be reversed, due to the existence of new evidence.

Cleary argued that the Second Circuit should deny the motion to expand the record and affirm the district court’s decision. Among other things, Cleary argued that the purported new evidence failed to satisfy any exception to the general rule against admitting new evidence on appeal. Moreover, Cleary argued such evidence would not have changed the outcome of the case, and explained why the district court’s decision was proper in light of the evidence that was before it.

A unanimous panel of the Second Circuit denied the appellant’s motions to expand the record on appeal and affirmed the district court’s decision. The Second Circuit noted that “there was ample basis for the court’s conclusions that returning the children to Canada would expose them to grave risk” of harm.

For the appeal, Cleary worked in partnership with Sanctuary for Families, New York’s leading service provider and advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence.

Read the full opinion here.