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Corona del Mar grad wins national award

Mary-Christine Sungaila, class of 1985, will be recognized in Miami by Alphi Phi for her national and international legal work.

July 09, 2010|By Tom Ragan, tom.ragan@latimes.com
  • M.C. Sungaila , attorney at Horvitz and Levy.
M.C. Sungaila , attorney at Horvitz and Levy. (Edward Carreon,…)

On Saturday , Mary-Christine Sungaila, a Corona del Mar High School graduate, will receive the Frances E. Willard Award of Achievement at the Alpha Phi International Fraternity's 68th biennial Convention in Miami.

She will receive the honor in recognition of her national and international legal work, according to a news release.

Sungaila is a partner at the appellate law firm Horvitz & Levy LLP, based in Los Angeles. Her work includes a friend of the court brief on behalf of Amnesty International in a ground-breaking human rights case decided last year, according to a press release from the award committee.

In her work, Sungaila and colleague David Ettinger challenged the Mexican government for not having investigated to the full extent of international law the disappearances of more than 300 women in Ciudad Juárez over the last decade and a half.

On Dec. 10, 2009 — Human Rights Day — the Organization of American States' Inter-American Court of Human Rights held Mexico responsible for failing to respond to the three deaths of three Ciudad Juárez women — all of whom were part of a wave of unsolved slayings since the mid-1990s of hundreds of women and girls in the border city across from El Paso, Texas.

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The court found that Mexico violated human rights laws by not only failing to investigate the murders but for also having neglected to compensate the victims' families and failing to punish officials who mishandled the investigation. Subsequently, the court ordered the Mexican government to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to the families of the three victims.

Sungaila, a 1985 graduate of CdM, now ranks in one in 29 women to have received the Frances E. Willard Award of Achievement.

Sungaila had worked for Judge Nelson while Sungaila was attending UCLA law school. She attended Stanford University for undergraduate studies.

A few months ago, the Corona del Mar High School celebrated the lives of the missing Mexican women by hanging up various quilts around campus, memorializing them and informing the general student population about their disappearances.

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