State College passes domestic violence proclamation initiated by Penn State Law

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham and the State College Borough Council passed a proclamation during the council's Oct. 12 meeting declaring that freedom from domestic violence is a fundamental human right.

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, more than 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 governments to address domestic violence while acknowledging the important role they play in keeping citizens safe.

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

While addressing the council, Brady thanked Jill C. Engle, Penn State professor of clinical law and director of the Family Law Clinic, 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, as well as 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 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.

Last Updated October 20, 2015