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State College mayor and council pass domestic violence proclamation initiated by law students

Mayor Elizabeth Goreham and the State College Borough Council passed a proclamation declaring freedom from domestic violence is a fundamental human right during Monday’s council meeting.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.  -- Mayor Elizabeth Goreham and the State College Borough Council passed a proclamation declaring freedom from domestic violence is a fundamental human right during Monday’s council meeting. 

Students from Penn State Law’s Family Law Clinic brought the proclamation to Goreham with the hope that State College would join the growing list of local government bodies across the country that have adopted similar proclamations or resolutions.  Since 2011, over 25 cities have declared that it is a fundamental human right to live free from domestic violence. These proclamations raise awareness and demonstrate support for a new, human rights-based approach to domestic violence. Further, these proclamations highlight the responsibility of local government to address domestic violence while acknowledging the important role they play in keeping their citizens safe.

Third-year students Anna Brady and Morgan Palermo, along with Family Law Clinic fellow Courtney Kiehl, worked on this proclamation as part of the clinic’s student legal team.

While addressing the council, Brady thanked Professor and Clinic Director Jill C. Engle for her “immense support” while working on the project, and also stated that “in the midst of our excitement, we want to always remember the victims of domestic violence.”

“In 2014,” Brady added, “the State College Police Department reported 338 domestic-violence related incidents.  By issuing such a proclamation, they are bringing awareness and pledging to combat domestic violence.  We are hopeful that one day the idea of freedom from domestic violence will be seen across the United States and the world as a fundamental human right.”

About the Penn State Law Family Law Clinic

Students in Penn State Law’s Family Law Clinic represent victims of domestic abuse, and other individuals with family law disputes such as divorce and child custody cases. The work typically includes intensive counseling, case strategy, and litigation, for which the students learn a client-centered approach to the practice of law. Public policy projects are also an aspect of the clinic's work, involving partners such as the American Bar Association and Penn State's Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness.  

Professor Jill C. Engle directs Penn State Law's Family Law Clinic. Her scholarship examines the rights of domestic violence victims, economic rights of divorced women, international domestic violence issues, and best practices in legal education. Engle has done public interest work for decades, including with Head Start programs and the National League of Cities. While in law school she was part of the legal team with Morgan Lewis in Washington, D.C. that handled a pro bono appeal for a Texas death row inmate in federal court.

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