Jessica Gonzales says she asked police in Castle Rock, Co., six times in eight hours in 1999 to check on her estranged husband, Simon, who had a history of erratic behavior and had been ordered by a judge to stay away from the family. It turned out that Simon Gonzales had killed the couple’s three girls before he killed himself. Jessica Gonzales, the American Civil Liberties Union, and women’s rights groups hope her experience will help persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to require police to enforce domestic-violence restraining orders, USA Today reports. The court hears arguments in the case today.
Government groups are closely following the case, concerned about limited resources and possible new liability for local police. With thousands of restraining orders issued annually, a ruling could have broad consequences for victims of domestic abuse and for police seeking to retain their discretion in pursuing possible criminal activity. “Police have to be required to enforce restraining orders or else these orders are meaningless,” Gonzales says. She is making a novel argument. She won her case in a U.S. appeals court, but that decision – making the town of Castle Rock liable for how it handled her complaint that night – is at odds with rulings from other courts.