Former Castle Hills councilwoman speaks out after Supreme Court rules to keep her lawsuit against the city alive

Sylvia Gonzalez was arrested in 2019 after allegedly stealing a government document. The case was dismissed by the District Attorney.

CASTLE HILLS, Texas — Castle Hills city drama made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. On Thursday, the high court ruled in favor a former city councilwoman, keeping her lawsuit alive. She is suing the city and several city officials for arresting her out of political retribution.

Sylvia Gonzalez was arrested in 2019 for allegedly stealing a government document shortly after taking office at the city council. The district attorney eventually dropped the charges.

To this day, she claims it was an accident, but the mayor and city claim she committed a crime.

They released surveillance video from May 22, 2019 where they claim Gonzalez took Mayor Edward ‘JR’ Treviño’s copy of a petition asking the city to remove the city manager.

“The petition was not negative,” Gonzalez said. “The petition was what people wanted, they kept saying well why can’t we have this other city manager.”

Gonzalez was approached by the mayor after the meeting about the missing documents.

“I open my folder and I started looking and there it was to my surprise,” Gonzalez said. “I handed it to him, and he said, oh you must have picked it up by accident and so I didn’t think anything about it until there was a warrant out for my arrest.”

She was facing a tempering with governmental records charge and spent a day at the jail.

“I got the handcuffs,” Gonzalez said. “It was a pretty scary situation for an old lady like me.”

A year after her arrest, with the help of the Institute for Justice, she filed a lawsuit against the city for violating her first and 14th amendment rights.

“You know they wanted to punish me, punish me for my petition which is my freedom of speech,” Gonzalez said.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Gonzalez, stating she had not provided enough evidence to back up her claim that the arrest as out of political retribution.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled the lower court misinterpreted a main argument in its decision.

The full opinion can be found, here. The case is now being sent back to the lower courts.

“I’m elated, but you know the decision was never just about me,” Gonzalez said. “I was doing this because I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I went through.”

Castle Hills Mayor JR Treviño released a statement in response, welcoming further review of the case.

Full statement:

“Today’s U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Gonzalez vs Treviño sends the case back to the 5th Circuit for a more complete review of the legal issues. This marks the first time in four years that an opinion has taken note of the true facts, including Ms. Gonzalez’s admission that probable cause existed for her arrest, as outlined in Justice Alito’s concurring opinion. This was underscored by Justice Alito citing the actual surveillance video of Ms. Gonzalez’s actions. Although this extends the timeline, we welcome further review of the case by the 5th Circuit. Rest assured the Castle Hills Police and all City services will continue our mission of providing best-in-class services to our community.”

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