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9.27 Pretrial Detainee’s Claim of Excessive Force (Comment only)

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9.27 PRETRIAL DETAINEE’S CLAIM OF EXCESSIVE FORCE

Comment

When a pretrial detainee claims unconstitutional use of force, the court must determine whether to instruct based on the Fourth Amendment, the Eighth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, or another constitutional standard.

In Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 395 n. 10 (1989), the Supreme Court observed:

Our cases have not resolved the question whether the Fourth Amendment continues to provide individuals with protection against deliberate use of excessive physical force beyond the point at which arrest ends and pretrial detention begins, and we do not attempt to answer that question today. It is clear, however, that the Due Process Clause protects a pretrial detainee from the use of excessive force that amounts to punishment. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535-39 (1979).

Thereafter, the Ninth Circuit held in Pierce v. Multnomah County, 76 F.3d 1032, 1043 (9th Cir. 1996), that the Fourth Amendment applies to excessive force cases involving situations of "warrantless, post-arrest, pre-arraignment custody." See also Gibson v. County of Washoe, Nev. 290 F.3d 1175, 1197 (9th Cir. 2002)and Lolli v. County of Orange, 351 F.3d 410, 415 (9th Cir. 2003), both of which hold the "Fourth Amendment sets the applicable constitutional limitations" in circumstances when the use of force apparently occurred before arraignment. But, the question whether force claims by post-arraignment, pre-trial detainees should be analyzed under the Fourth or Eighth Amendments remains an open question in the Ninth Circuit.

Pending clarification by the Ninth Circuit, the committee recommends modifying Instruction 9.22 (Particular Rights–Fourth Amendment–Unreasonable Seizure of Person– Excessive (Deadly and Nondeadly) Force) when the court concludes the plaintiff’s force claim arises under the Fourth Amendment and Instruction 9.24 (Particular Rights—Eighth Amendment—Prisoner’s Claim of Excessive Force) when the court concludes the claim arises under the Eighth Amendment. The committee has not drafted a Fourteenth Amendment excessive force instruction due to the absence of controlling Ninth Circuit case law.

Approved 11/2010