Judicial Activism and Excessive Force

It’s September 29, 2009 in Ferguson, Missouri. Harry Davis, a black DUI suspect, is jailed and beaten while in handcuffs. After the incident, Davis is charged with four counts of committing property damage… for bleeding on the officers’ uniforms. Later, the Ferguson police officer admits he had no personal knowledge of the “property damage,” but swore out the complaint against Davis at the direction of his sergeant.

The Eight U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is now considering the appeal from the District Court which threw out the case against the Ferguson police, as the police had, “qualified immunity,” and Davis didn’t show that Ferguson’s city’s police department was “indifferent to citizens,” such as Davis.

The court concluded that the police only caused a concussion, scalp laceration, and bruising, injuries which were, “de minimis.”

A Good Law Handcuffed by the Supreme Court?

The Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, (42 U.S.C. § 1983) permitted persons to sue for violations of federal civil rights committed by government entities and their employees, when state courts would provide no remedy.

However, to avoid dealing with the influx of Section 1983 cases, the U.S. Supreme Court created the doctrine of qualified immunity. Qualified immunity shields government officials from liability when performing discretionary functions.

In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court added an additional requirement that the injured party must also show that the offending governmental entity (e.g., the police department), “acted with deliberate indifference.”

Is the Victim Handcuffed?

Now the injured person has to prove that the police should not be “immune” and the employer of the officer (e.g. city, county or state), is also guilty of “deliberate indifference.”

Activism by the court may reduce caseloads by these additional restrictions. However, they also protect wrongdoing, which, if unaddressed, repeats itself, perhaps as in Ferguson.

“The Only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, and Yucca Valley and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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