Women's History in the Making
I die, I don't want other women to suffer as I have suffered;
I want them to be listened to."
María Teresa Macias
most important women's rights case in the country, María
Teresa Macias v. Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Ihde, federal
district court Judge Susan Illston on March 13th denied the
County of Sonoma's request to have the $15 million civil rights
lawsuit dismissed on summary judgment.
ruling, Judge Illston swept away the final hurdle a
hurdle that nearly every domestic violence civil rights case
fails to clear and this landmark case will go to trial
in federal court in San Francisco on June 17th.
is a great victory for women and domestic violence victims
everywhere, as the Macias case breaks new ground with every
court appearance. A July 20, 2000 ruling by the 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals has already established in the clearest language
ever that women have the right to hold law enforcement legally
accountable for their response to violence against women.
ruling, which sent the case back to the district court for
trial, is already being used by other domestic violence lawsuits
all over the West. A trial victory will have even more far-reaching
effects on women everywhere, and will likely become the law
of the land.
come to know that the number one reason for domestic violence
homicide is law enforcement's refusal to enforce the laws
protecting women from abuse by their partners and ex-partners.
Until now, women have had no legal recourse.
in the Macias case will put law enforcement all over the country
on notice that failing to provide effective law enforcement
to victims of domestic violence is a violation of the constitution
and will cost them millions – a fact that likely will save
thousands of women's lives.
Teresa Macias was shot to death by her estranged husband,
Avelino, on April 15, 1996, after the Sonoma County Sheriff's
Department ignored Teresa's more than 25 calls for help. Avelino
also shot Teresa's mother, Sara Hernandez, before turning
the gun on himself.
rights lawsuit, filed on behalf of Teresa's children, came
out of the month-long investigation into Teresa's murder by
Tanya Brannan, Purple Berets and Marie De Santis, Women's
Justice Center. Focusing on Teresa's many contacts with law
enforcement, that investigation showed a 2-year pattern of
deputies' failure to investigate, make arrests, write reports
or in any way protect Teresa from Avelino's escalating violence,
sexual assaults, stalking, and threats to kill Teresa and
before the murder, Teresa and a neighbor, Marty Cabello, went
into the sheriff's substation to report the latest of Avelino's
many violations of the domestic violence restraining order
Teresa had obtained.
them, ‘He's gonna kill her. He's saying he's gonna kill her
and then he's gonna kill his mother-in-law. You've got to
do something,'" Cabello told us. No action was taken by the
states that the Sheriff's deputies' behavior emboldened Avelino,
increasing the risk to Teresa and her three children and leaving
Avelino free to hunt her down and kill her, all this in violation
of California state law and county policy.
you to support what is by far the most important women's rights
case in the country and be a witness to women's history in
plans now to attend the trial beginning June 17th in federal
court in San Francisco, 450 Golden Gate at Polk - 17th Floor,
courtroom 4. The trial is slated to last three to four weeks
and will run Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00
p.m. The final pre-trial hearing will take place on at 3:30
p.m. on Tuesday, June 4th. That too will be open to the
crucial that Judge Illston see this case is being widely
watched. Your presence can literally help to change the
world. Please come pack the courtroom.
the Purple Berets.We'll be putting hundreds of hours and
thousands of dollars into this case. We need you to volunteer
your time and to donate money to make it all possible.
to spread the word of the trial to other women's and civil
rights groups in the Bay Area. The higher the profile of
the case, the more law enforcement will be forced to pay
attention to women's right to non-discriminatory law enforcement.
download a flyer about the trial, click
more on the Macias case, contact Purple Berets at:
PO Box 3064, Santa Rosa, CA 95402, (707) 887-0262
the full story on the Macias case, click