ArticlesVolume 20, Number 1 (2011)

The State-Created Danger Doctrine in Domestic Violence Cases: Do We Have a Solution in Okin v. Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson Police Department


Roy Sears began physically abusing Michele Okin after the birth of their first child.1 0kin sought police protection from Sears on multiple occasions. On one occasion when a police officer intervened and arrived at their home after Sears had beaten Okin, the officer did not question or arrest Sears, choosing instead to discuss football with Sears. At the time, Sears was beating Okin every day. The abuse continued after the officer left their home. The failure of the police to intervene ensured that Sears would continue to abuse Okin. Her plight raises questions about what recourse, if any, domestic violence victims in her situation have. Can or should a woman who has suffered domestic violence in the hands of a perpetrator bring a claim against the police officers that failed to protect her? If so, does she have a viable claim for the violation of her substantive due process rights? If there is a substantive due process violation, what standard should be applied?