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Monday, March 21, 2005

Oral Arguments Today in a Mother's Suit Alleging Police Negligence for Failing to Enforce a Restraining Order

Oral arguments are scheduled for today, Monday March 21, in the case of Jessica Gonzales, of Castle Rock, CO, who contends, in her $30 million lawsuit, that Castle Rock police officers ignored her calls for help when Simon Gonzales, her ex-husband, took their daughters, ages 7, 9, and 10 from her yard in June 1999 in violation of a restraining order, and later killed them.  She claims that if the police had appropriately responded, they could have prevented Simon Gonzales from killing their daughters.  The Associated Press reports, "At issue in the Supreme Court appeal is whether the 14th Amendment obligates police to protect residents from violence when a local government issues a restraining order and promises it will be enforced...Gonzales' federal court lawsuit was dismissed in 2001, but it was reinstated by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said police had a duty to respond to her calls for help. In Colorado and about 20 other states, law enforcement agencies are required to enforce restraining orders.  Littleton Assistant City Attorney Brad Bailey, who filed a brief opposing the lawsuit, said the 10th Circuit's decision marked the first time any court has given such status to a restraining order. 'Given the sheer numbers of orders out there, potentially the liability is just staggering,' Bailey said."   Many states' laws sanction relief for police negligence, but Colorado law bars these negligence suits.  More from NYTimes... [Mark Godsey]

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