In July 2021, the SDNY ordered the Velozny children returned to Israel. Ms. Velozny (Respondent) appeals to the 2nd Circuit. She “challenges the district court’s order and judgment to the extent that it declined to apply one of th[e] affirmative defenses, i.e., the grave risk of harm exception, as well as the district court’s discretionary decision declining to apply the mature child exception. Ms. Velozny also challenges the district court’s use of expedited proceedings and its decision limiting Ms. Velozny’s ability to submit certain evidence.” On November 29, 2021, the 2nd Circuit issued a non-precedential summary order.
The 2nd Circuit found the SDNY’s refusal to interview the two children in camera to be appropriate, acknowledging the expert affidavits based on extensive interviews with the children. The trial judge had said, “I am hesitant to put the children through [in camera interviews] after having gone through hours and hours with the psychologist. . . . I don’t see that there is any significant additional evidence that would be determinative of this case given the complete examination done by the experts and their full reports on these issues.” Further, the youngest child was not mature, and the oldest child only stated a preference, not an objection to returning to Israel. The trial judge was also not inclined to separate the two children.
The trial judge found the grave risk exception inapplicable upon review of the evidence, including that only one month prior to her removal of the children, Ms. Velozny was willing to let the children travel unaccompanied to Israel twice a year to see their father. The 2nd Circuit found this was not error.
Finally, the trial judge’s “decision to hear two days of live testimony to supplement the evidence filed along with the summary judgment papers was ‘[i]n keeping with the [Hague] Convention’s explicit emphasis on expeditious judicial resolution.'”