Castle Rock v. Gonzales
Jessica Gonzales sued the City of Castle Rock, Colorado, and several individual police officers, on behalf of herself and her deceased minor children. Gonzales alleged that their substantive and procedural due process rights were violated when the police officers failed to enforce a restraining order against her estranged husband after he abducted their three daughters. The husband murdered the children while Gonzales sought enforcement of the order. The district court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, concluding that Gonzales failed to state a claim under the Fourteenth Amendment for the deprivation of either substantive or procedural due process.
On appeal, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that Gonzales had no substantive due process claim, but reversed with regard to the procedural due process claim. The court found that mandatory language in the Colorado statute regarding restraining orders created an entitlement for Gonzales to receive protective services from the police, and that she stated a claim for deprivation of procedural due process because of the failure of the police officers to arrest, or even to attempt to arrest, her husband pursuant to the order. After a rehearing en banc, a closely divided court affirmed the opinion of the first panel.
1. Whether, in conflict with decisions of the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and D.C. Circuits, the Tenth Circuit's decision permitting a procedural due process claim against a local government for its failure to protect the holder of a partial restraining order from private violence, when the State itself provides no such remedy, so circumvents as to effectively repudiate this Court's holding in DeShaney rejecting a similar substantive due process claim?
2. If the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause is read to permit, via its procedural aspects, the same substantive claims already rejected by this Court in DeShaney, what kind of process is required for police inaction with respect to a partial restraining order not to violate the constitution?