Sunday, April 28, 2013

Town of Castle Rock, Colorado v. Gonzales case brief

Town of Castle Rock, Colorado v. Gonzales case brief summary
545 U.S. 748

CASE SYNOPSIS: A writ of certiorari issued to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit which found a protected property interest in the enforcement of a restraining order and reversed a dismissal of plaintiff mother's 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 claim that defendant city violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause when police officers failed to act on repeated reports that the father took their children, resulting in the children's murders.

ANALYSIS: The court refused to defer to the Tenth Circuit's determination that Colorado law gave the mother a right to police enforcement of the restraining order. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-6-803.5(2)(a), (3), (5) (1999), did not make enforcement of restraining orders mandatory. A true mandate required a stronger indication than the statute's direction to use every reasonable means to enforce a restraining order or even to arrest or seek a warrant. The police had discretion in the apparently mandatory statute. Although § 18-6-803.5 spoke of "protected persons" such as the mother, it did so in connection with matters other than a right to enforcement, such as initiating contempt proceedings under § 18-6-803.5(7), which contrasted dramatically with the complete silence about any power to "request" (much less demand) that an arrest be made. The creation of a personal entitlement to something as vague and novel as enforcement of restraining orders could not simply go without saying. Section 18-6-803.5 had not created such an entitlement. The right to enforce a restraining order did not have ascertainable monetary value. The mother had no property interest in police enforcement of the order.

CONCLUSION: The decision of the Tenth Circuit was reversed.

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