1. Did the district court err in certifying the class of plaintiffs, holding that the named plaintiffs have standing under Article III of the United States Constitution, and that a class may be certified even where not all members of the class have standing?
2. Did the district court err in granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee, holding that Plaintiffs’ § 1983 claim must fail as they could not prove violation of a constitutional right, specifically finding that there was no question of material fact as to whether Defendant-Appellee violated Plaintiffs’ 14th Amendment due process rights?
This problem is an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The first issue concerns standing, i.e., whether the Plaintiffs here are sufficient parties to actually bring this action to court. The second issue concerns whether the Defendant violated the 14th Amendment due process rights of the Plaintiffs.
Plaintiff Jenny Johansson is a 33-year-old survivor of domestic violence and the former girlfriend of Henry Barton, who abused her, and with whom she shares joint custody of their daughter, Amy Barton. She is a resident of the city of San Andreas in the State of Castleman.
Plaintiff Kyla Yvette is a 25-year-old survivor of domestic violence and the wife of Antonio Yvette, who abused her, and with whom she shares joint custody of their two children. She is a resident of the county of Greenpier in the State of Castleman.
Plaintiff Stacian Crawford is a 34-year-old survivor of domestic violence and the wife of John Crawford, who abused her and with whom she shares joint custody of their three children. She is a resident of the city of San Andreas in the State of Castleman.
Defendant Matthew Plowman is the current governor of the State of Castleman and was the governor who signed the Minor Crimes Reform Act (MCRA) into law on April 1, 2014. He is also responsible for enforcing the provisions of that act and the Castleman Child Relocation statute.
Castleman is a small state located in the western United States within the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In March 2014, the Castleman State General Assembly passed the MCRA allegedly to address the problem of limited prosecutorial resources and the disproportionate arrest of people of color within the state.
The MCRA specifically decriminalized misdemeanor domestic violence, misdemeanor battery, misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor public drunkenness, and misdemeanor disorderly conduct, all crimes that disproportionately occurred in domestic violence situations.
The bill also provided that social workers would respond to the scene of non-emergent domestic violence situations in order to promote family healing. During debate on the bill, supporters emphasized that they felt current enforcement methods inappropriately broke down the family, rather than trying to repair things.
Dr. Julian Maxem, a professor who has done extensive research on domestic violence, testified during the debate and voiced his belief that the MCRA would place domestic violence survivors at risk of severe harm. He was particularly concerned about survivors with children, who were further handicapped by Castleman’s Child Relocation statute, which prohibited them from moving out of state with their children without the other parent’s permission or a court order, and also prevented them from moving either inside or outside of the state without notifying the other parent or seeking a court order of confidentiality.
The three named plaintiffs were all in relationships with men who had criminal charges pending against them at the time the MCRA was passed. After the passage of the MCRA the charges were accordingly dropped and the named plaintiffs lost their criminal court Temporary Orders of Protection. The men then moved back in with the named plaintiffs, and shortly thereafter began abusing them again. The police refused to arrest the men thereafter, because they did not believe their conduct was sufficient to meet any felony statute and all relevant misdemeanor crimes were repealed by the MCRA.
Plaintiffs-Appellants/Cross-Appellees filed a class action complaint on June 27, 2015, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, against Governor Matthew Plowman, alleging that he violated their due process rights under the 14th Amendment by signing the MCRA into law and enforcing its provisions.
On July 12, 2014, they moved to certify a class including all individuals who are victims of domestic violence, were physically injured by their abuser after April 14, 2014, and would have been protected by a temporary restraining order issued by a criminal court at the time of their injury if not for the passage and enforcement of the MCRA.
On August 13, 2015, Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant submitted opposition papers to the motion for class certification. Following review of the submissions from both parties, the Honorable Judge Casey Matthews, of the District Court of Castleman, certified the proposed class, finding that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 was satisfied in all respects and that Plaintiffs had standing.
On February 1, 2016, Governor Plowman moved for summary judgment and Appellants submitted opposition papers on February 10, 2016. The District Court of Castleman granted Governor Plowman’s motion on April 7, 2016, finding that Appellants’ claims failed both the special relationship and state-created danger tests for 14th Amendment violations.
Appellants timely appealed the grant of summary judgment to the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Appellee then cross-appealed the order granting class certification on the ground that both Appellants and the class at large lacked standing to pursue their substantive due process claims.
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