A Force to Be Reckoned With: Confronting the (Still) Unresolved Questions of Excessive Force Jurisprudence After Kingsley

52 Pages Posted: 7 May 2016 Last revised: 3 Apr 2017

See all articles by Michael DiBattista

Michael DiBattista

Columbia Human Rights Law Review; Columbia University, Law School, Students

Date Written: February 22, 2016

Abstract

In Kingsley v. Hendrickson, the Supreme Court finally resolved the outstanding question of what standard is used to determine whether a pretrial detainee’s right to be free from excessive force under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause has been violated. The Court held that the appropriate standard is an objective reasonableness test similar to the Fourth Amendment’s test for excessive force, rather than a subjective test similar to the malicious and sadistic purpose test under the Eighth Amendment. While resolving this longstanding question, the Court expressly reserved two related questions — the answers to which will either broaden or restrict the boundaries and definitions of what constitutes excessive force, and the rights of pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners. These questions are: (1) whether reckless acts (as opposed to purposeful acts) that cause objectively unreasonable force are sufficient to state a claim under the Fourteenth Amendment, and (2) whether the Court’s holding that an objective standard is sufficient to assess excessive force claims brought by pretrial detainees under the Fourteenth Amendment is in conflict with the Court’s prior holdings that a subjective standard is required to assess excessive force claims brought by convicted inmates under the Eighth Amendment. The note discusses these unresolved questions and predicts how the Court will eventually resolve them in the future.

Keywords: Kingsley, Hendrickson, Prisoner, Excessive, Force, Pretrial, Detainee, Convicted, Inmate, Fourteenth Amendment, Eighth Amendment, Due Process, Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Suggested Citation

DiBattista, Michael, A Force to Be Reckoned With: Confronting the (Still) Unresolved Questions of Excessive Force Jurisprudence After Kingsley (February 22, 2016). Michael S. DiBattista, A Force to Be Reckoned With: Confronting the (Still) Unresolved Questions of Excessive Force Jurisprudence After Kingsley, 48.2 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 203 (2017).. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2776144

Michael DiBattista (Contact Author)

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