Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
May 21, 1999 The Douglas County Court (CO) grants a temporary restraining order to Jessica Gonzales, ordering that her estranged husband, Simon Gonzales, “shall not enter the family home... and shall remain at least 100 yards away from this location at all times.” The judge specifically found that “physical or emotional harm would result” if Simon were not excluded from the home.
June 4, 1999 Colorado State Court makes the temporary restraining order permanent, together with modifications that grant Jessica sole physical custody of the three girls. The order permits Simon to have a pre-arranged mid-week dinner visit and alternate weekend visits with the girls.
June 22, 1999 Simon kidnaps Rebecca, Katheryn, and Leslie in violation of the restraining order. Jessica calls and meets with the police nine times over the course of seven hours, but the police do nothing to try to locate the girls and ensure their safety. Simon drives up to the police station, opens fire, and is killed in the shootout. The bodies of the three girls are found in his pickup. Jessica is detained and interrogated for 12 hours and her demands to see her children are ignored.
July 2000 Jessica files a complaint in Federal District Court of Colorado alleging Constitutional violations by the town of Castle rock and three individual police officers.
January 2001 Federal District Court of Colorado dismisses her complaint, and Jessica appeals the decision.
October 2002 A three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the district court and holds that Colorado’s mandatory arrest law entitled Jessica to police enforcement of her restraining order. Castle Rock asks that the full court reconsider.
April 2004 The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals en banc upholds its previous decision, recognizing a procedural due process right. Castle Rock appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
June 2005 The U.S. Supreme Court reverses the Tenth Circuit, holding that Jessica has no Constitutional right to police enforcement of her restraining order.
December 2005 The ACLU files a petition on behalf of Jessica with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) asserting that the Castle Rock Police Department’s actions and the U.S. Supreme Court decision violated her human rights protected under the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man.
October 2007 IACHR declares Jessica’s petition admissible.
October 2008 IACHR holds a hearing on the merits of Jessica’s petition: Jessica Gonzales v. United States of America.
November 2010 IACHR sends its draft findings and recommendations to counsel for both parties.


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