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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 123483 Find in a Library
Title: Qualified Immunity for Law Enforcement Officials in Section 1983 Excessive Force Cases
Journal: Cincinnati Law Review  Volume:58  Issue:1  Dated:(1989)  Pages:243-262
Author(s): D P Stoelting
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 19
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This comment examines the availability of the qualified immunity defense to law enforcement officials in excessive force cases brought under 42 U.S.C. section 1983.
Abstract: The Supreme Court's standards for qualified immunity are examined. The defense is granted liberally to higher ranking officials of the executive branch, but the author argues that the defense is increasingly being made available to law enforcement officers. The Supreme Court has never ruled on the availability of the defense in excessive force cases; thus the lower courts have relied on Supreme Court cases that generally allow the defense. It is asserted that the defense is granted too easily due to a misinterpretation of good faith standards articulated at the Supreme Court level; a misapplication of case law that allows the defense to excessive force cases, and a general attitude of the courts that police officer's judgments should not be second-guessed. It is claimed that the present standard for granting the defense raises the burden of proof of the plaintiff to the point where she must show, at the summary judgement stage, an intent on the part of the police officer to unconstitutionally use excessive force, which could transform the defense to absolute immunity. 137 footnotes.
Main Term(s): Police legal limitations
Index Term(s): Abuse of authority; Civil liability; On-duty offenses; Sovereign immunity
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