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Chapter 11

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Chapter 11

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  1. Chapter 11 Civil and Criminal Remedies for Constitutional Violations

  2. Introduction • civil remedies • criminal remedies • administrative remedies • dual sovereignty

  3. Civil Remedies • tort • compensatory vs. punitive damages • Title 42, Section 1983 of the U.S. Code • Bivens suit

  4. Section 1983 Legal Actions • taken against local and state law enforcement officials • Monroe v. Pape: individuals can sue state officials for damages in federal or in state court • three elements that a plaintiff must establish by a preponderance of the evidence • color of law • violation of constitutional rights • immunity

  5. Color of State Law • the defendant exercise power that he or she “possessed by virtue of state law and made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law” • totality of the circumstance • whether the individual’s acts were undertaken in furtherance of his/her responsibilities as a police officer or were undertaken as a private citizen

  6. Violation of Federal Constitutional and Statutory Rights • defendant violated a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution or federal law • violation of a right guaranteed by a state constitution but not guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution may not be the subject of a legal suit under § 1983

  7. Individual Liability under § 1983 • liability may be imposed on • a police officer who is directly responsible for violating an individual’s constitutional rights • his/her commanding officer • in some cases, city officials • an “affirmative link” between the actions or orders of the supervisors and the allegations of police misconduct must be proved to hold supervisors liable

  8. Immunity • absolute and qualified • Harlow v. Fitzgerald • § 1983 suits are intended to compensate individuals who have been harmed by a violation of their federal constitutional rights and rights under federal statutes • § 1983 suits impose a burden on government officials, some of whom may prove to be completely innocent

  9. Absolute Immunity • enjoyed by judges, prosecutors, witnesses, and jurors • during a trial, individuals are asked to make difficult choices and should not be in fear of being sued

  10. Qualified Immunity • offered to police officers, prison officials, correctional officers, probation officers, and other criminal justice practitioners • liable under § 1983 for the violation of a “clearly established right” • whether an objectively reasonable officer would be aware that his or her conduct is unlawful • police and other criminal justice professionals work under enormous pressures and that the line between unlawful and lawful conduct often is unclear • three steps • whether the individual/officer violated the plaintiff’s constitutional right • whether the right was clearly established • whether the right violated was a clearly established constitutional or federal right

  11. Legal Equation

  12. Immunity of Judges and Prosecutors • officials still may be criminally prosecuted for penal offenses such as corruption, bribery, or conspiracy to deprive an individual of his or her civil rights • Mireles v. Waco: “[a]lthough unfairness and injustice to a litigant may result on occasion, it is a general principle of the highest importance of the proper administration of justice that a judicial officer, in exercising the authority vested in him, shall be free to act upon his convictions without apprehension of personal consequences to himself” • Forrester v. White: judges can be held liable under § 1983 when carrying out administrative, not judicial, tasks • Imbler v. Pachtman: rationale for prosecutorial immunity is similar to that for judicial immunity

  13. Affirmative Duty to Protect • question of whether the police, correctional officers, or other government officials are civilly liable for failing to protect an individual or the public from a criminal act • police and other government officials have no legal obligation to intervene to protect the general public • police do have a duty to protect those over whom they have control (e.g. prisoners) and those with whom they have a “special relationship” • “state-created danger” exception

  14. Liability of LocalGovernments Under § 1983 • state governments and agencies cannot be sued under § 1983 • Eleventh Amendment • liable when police officials or other employees inflict an injury while carrying out an official governmental “policy” or custom • liability • causality • factors • accountability • resources • local budgets

  15. Injunctions • a court order that directs an individual or government to stop an unlawful activity • a violation of an injunction is punishable by contempt • typically have been issued only where there is evidence that police officials have resisted demands to change discriminatory or harmful police department policies that present a clear and immediate threat of harm

  16. Pattern and Practice of the Deprivation of Constitutional Rights • Federal Police Misconduct Statute, 42 U.S.C. § 14141: it is unlawful for law enforcement officers or law enforcement agencies to “engage in a pattern or practice of conduct” that deprives individuals of a constitutional right or right guaranteed by the laws of the United States • pattern-or-practice decree

  17. State Tort Remedies Against Law Enforcement Officers • tort actions against law enforcement officers are difficult to win because they possess the defense of official immunity • proof by a preponderance of the evidence that the tort was committed in a “willful or malicious fashion” • respondeat superior

  18. Remedies for Constitutional Violations by Federal Agents • Bivens v. Six Unnamed FBI Agents: federal law enforcement officers are responsible for constitutional torts that violate individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights • the requirements for a Bivens suit are essentially the same as the requirements for a § 1983 suit • federal judges and prosecutors enjoy absolute immunity • federal law enforcement and correctional officers, the heads of federal agencies, and presidential aides are provided qualified immunity for violating constitutional rights that are not clearly established • elements of a Bivens action: similar to that of a § 1983 • Federal Tort Claim Act, 28 U.S. C. § 1346(b)

  19. Legal Equation

  20. Criminal Prosecutions • prosecutors often encourage an individual to seek a civil remedy rather than look to the government to initiate a criminal prosecution against a police officer • state criminal codes also often include specific provisions punishing official misconduct and obstruction of justice by government employees • Graham v. Connor • federal criminal prosecution • 18 U.S.C. § 242 • Screws v. United States

  21. Internal Affairs • internal affairs division • four possible results of an internal affairs investigation • unfounded • exonerated • not sustained • sustained

  22. External Review • civilian review • concern of outsiders second-guessing police actions • authorities • civilian review • civilian investigation • civilian oversight • civilian mediation