Monthly Archives: August 2011

Mark Wynn Workshop at MCC September 27

SHARE, Inc. presents a free one-day workshop given by national speaker Mark Wynn on September 27, 2011, in the Bloedorn Room, at Morgan Community College, 920 Barlow Road, Fort Morgan, Colorado.

“Domestic Violence Investigation and Intervention” is presented by Mark Wynn, a national trainer to law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, legislators, social service providers, health-care professionals and victim advocates.

The workshop targets law enforcement and criminal justice personnel and victim advocates and is open to the public. Seating is limited and the registration deadline is September 23. Sessions will run from 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. with lunch on your own.


I. Threat Assessment. This lesson outlines the most common element in domestic violence and how to build a view of seriousness using pre-incident indicators to violence. A profile of domestic murders using actual case examples and the common denominators in these fatal cases will be discussed.

II. Civil Liability in Domestic Violence Incidents. An overview of the dangerousness, complexity and liability risk to officers and departments when dealing with domestic violence. Review of existing case law of “failure to protect” suits. Legal authority of officers and agencies and methods to manage liability.

III. Stalking and Counter-stalking. Covers the growing crime of stalking in domestic violence incidents. Topics include stalking personalities and behavior, impact on victims, level of danger, establishing probable cause, investigative tactics, counter-measures and prevention, and safety planning.

IV. Beyond the Obvious – Avoiding Dual Arrest and Officer Manipulation. Will guide the investigator/officer through the difficult cases, provide a clear definition and understanding of probable cause, self-defense, interpretation of injuries and dominant / primary aggressor. The goal will be to reduce the inappropriate dual arrests that frequently occur at the scene of domestic violence cases.

Register by fax, e-mail or mail to: SHARE, Inc. Morgan County Domestic Violence Program, PO Box 414, Fort Morgan, CO 80701, Fax (970) 867-0460 or E-mail

International Human Rights Commission Finds U.S. Government Failed Domestic Violence Survivor and her Murdered Daughters

This week, in a landmark decision, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has found the U.S. government in violation of international human rights treaties in Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. U.S.A. This is the first case brought by a domestic violence survivor against the U.S. before an international human rights court.

The case stems from a tragic incident in Castle Rock, Colorado. In 1999, Jessica Lenahan’s (then Gonzales’s) ex-husband abducted the couple’s three daughters in violation of a domestic violence restraining order. Gonzales immediately alerted the police, calling them repeatedly over several hours and even going to the police station herself. Despite her pleas, the police made no effort to locate the children or enforce Colorado’s mandatory arrest law. In the early morning hours, Gonzales’s ex-husband parked his truck in front of the Castle Rock Police Department and began firing shots into the building. Police returned fire and killed Gonzales’s ex-husband. Law enforcement later found the bodies of Gonzales’s three daughters in her ex-husband’s truck. All three girls had been shot dead.

To this day, Gonzales does not know whether her ex-husband or the police’s returning fire killed her daughters because local law enforcement failed to conduct a proper investigation into the girls’ deaths.

Gonzales sued the Castle Rock Police Department for failing to protect her daughters, particularly since Gonzales had a restraining order against her ex-husband. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where, in 2005, the Court ruled that Gonzales did not have a constitutional right to protection, and that the police’s failure to enforce her protection order was not unconstitutional.

Gonzales then took her case to the IACHR, alleging the U.S. violated her human rights. Legal Momentum submitted an amicus brief in this case. When local law enforcement fails to enforce a protective order, the amicus brief argues, international human rights law dictates that the U.S. has a duty to protect individuals from – and provide a remedy for – domestic violence. The U.S. failed to do so in Gonzales’s case. Legal Momentum’s brief was cited in the IACHR decision.

The decision detailed several non-binding recommendations to the U.S. government regarding the case. These recommendations include:
“Full reparations” to Gonzales;
A “serious and impartial” investigation into Gonzales’s daughters’ deaths and the police department’s failure to respond to Gonzales’s calls for help; and
Adopting new laws or reforming current laws to make protection order enforcement mandatory – with adequate resources to ensure proper implementation and training on these issues.
Legal Momentum applauds the IACHR for recognizing Ms. Lenahan’s right to justice. We urge the U.S. Government to adopt the IACHR’s recommendations to ensure that local authorities protect victims of intimate partner violence and their children.
Read the IACHR’s decision in Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. U.S.A.
Read Legal Momentum’s amicus brief in Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. U.S.A.
Learn more about Legal Momentum.