M.C. Sungaila and David Ettinger, both partners at Los Angeles-based appellate firm Horvitz & Levy, were celebrating along with human rights groups last week when an international tribunal found Mexico liable for failing to investigate and prosecute a pattern of sinister murders of maquiladora workers — girls and women at foreign-owned factories in the border city of Ciudad Juarez.
Sungaila, left, the principal author of a pro bono amicus brief in the case for Amnesty International and others, and Ettinger had been brought in by a lawyer for the family of one of three young women whose unsolved murders were at the heart of the case. That was after he’d seen a brief Sungaila had filed in a domestic-violence-related lawsuit against the United States before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
One thing leads to another, after the jump ...
How big of a deal was last week’s ruling? Sungaila’s not one for understatement: “Brown v. Board of Education –- it’s about that important.”
The court ordered Mexico to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to the victims’ families as well as undertake a broad range of remedies in the face of the gender-based violence, including publishing specific paragraphs of the decision in newspapers and building a public monument memorializing the hundreds of women murdered in Ciudad Juarez since 1993.
Sungaila found the ruling particularly sweet in the face of Mexico’s long-running denial that there is a problem. “To have somebody tell these families that they were wrong, they’re responsible and here are all the things that they did — it’s more rewarding than anything you can do in a domestic court.”
— Kate Moser