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U.S. Supreme Court Says Police Have No Duty To Enforce Court Orders To Protect Any Individual

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Article 17-18

¡No Se Deje!

Jessica Gonzales sued the city of Castle Rock, Colorado because the Police refused to take action to enforce a court restraining order against her violent husband.  The court protective order required Simon Gonzales to stay away from her home and her children and also stated, “Police shall use all reasonable means to protect her and her children.”  Simon Gonzales abducted their three daughters, Rebecca, Kathryn, and Leslie from their home and, several hours later, shot and killed them.

 

When Jessica Gonzales realized that her three daughters were missing, she immediately called the Castle Rock Police Department.  She showed the Court Restraining Order to the officers and requested help.  Colorado law requires the police to arrest anyone who violate a restraining order.  Mrs. Gonzales stated that the police officers did not seem very concerned.  They told her to call back in a few hours if the girls had not been returned home.

 

Simon Gonzales finally called Jessica to tell her that he was with the girls at a well-known amusement park.   Jessica called the police and asked them to please go get the girls and bring them home.  She was told that they could not because the park was not in their jurisdiction.  They refused her request to call the police in that jurisdiction.  After her third call, the police asked her to call again at midnight if the girls still were not home.  She drove to the police station after her fourth call and again told the officers about the restraining order and again asked for help before going home.

 

At 3:20 in the morning, Simon drove his car to the Castle Rock Police Station and began shooting at the building with a semi-automatic pistol that he had just purchased.  Police officers shot and killed him and found the dead bodies of the three girls in his truck.

 

The Police Chief said that Simon Gonzales had recently been cited for road rage and for trespassing in a private section of the Police Department.  Colorado is one of 30 states that have laws that require the police to arrest people who violate court protective orders.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 that Mrs. Gonzales had no “Entitlement” to police enforcement of the restraining order.  They said “neither the U.S. Constitution nor any Federal law give her or her children the right to individual police protection.  They also said that the states have no duty to protect the rights of an individual from violation by third parties.

 

The reaction to this surprising decision of the Supreme Court has been hostile and intense.  Women’s groups and domestic violence advocates have expressed their disbelief and disappointment with the decision.  They correctly state that women who have court protective orders against violent husbands may not be safe.  Others have said that since police officers are paid from our tax dollars, they should be required to provide individual protection to all taxpayers.  Some say that it is also unfair to refuse to provide individual police protection after making it illegal for people to own and use guns to protect themselves.

 

Women’s Rights activists have said that the fight against domestic violence is meaningless if police have no duty to act.   Jessica Gonzales reasonably assumed that she would be protected by the court order.  Court orders mean nothing if police officers can legally decide not to enforce them.  This ruling by the Supreme Court should make us all very nervous because the police, it seems, do not have to enforce court orders if they choose not to. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

  

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.