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Castle Rock v. Gonzales

United States Supreme Court
545 U.S. 748 (2005)


Jessica Gonzales (plaintiff) obtained a temporary restraining order against her estranged husband from the State of Colorado. The restraining order prohibited the husband from disturbing the peace of Gonzales and their three children and from being within 100 yards of Gonzales’s house. A notice to law enforcement on the back of the restraining order mirrored a Colorado statute stating that police “shall use every reasonable means to enforce a restraining order” and “shall enforce a valid restraining order.” The husband took the three children while they were playing in front of Gonzales’s house. The husband had not arranged any visitation with Gonzales. Gonzales called the Castle Rock Police Department (CRPD) to report the incident and requested that the restraining order be enforced. The responding officers told Gonzales to wait until later that night to see if the children returned. Gonzales called the CRPD several more times with the same result. At 3:20 a.m. the following morning, the husband drove to the police station and began shooting at CRPD officers. The CRPD killed the husband. The CRPD then found the bodies of the children, whom the husband had already murdered, in the husband’s truck. Gonzales brought suit against the CRPD, alleging that the CRPD had violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to respond properly to Gonzales’s complaint that the restraining order had been violated. The district court dismissed the action. The court of appeals reversed, finding that Gonzales had a property interest in having the police enforce her restraining order and thus had stated a cognizable claim based on procedural due process. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)

Concurrence (Souter, J.)

Dissent (Stevens, J.)

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