Just the facts; Supreme Court relaxes excessive force standard in jails

just the factsWhat must an arrestee prove to prevail on a claim of excessive force against a jailer?

Is he required to show that the jailer used force against him with malicious and sadistic intent? Or is it sufficient to show that the force used was unreasonable under the circumstances?

You can access our previous coverage here.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in Kingsley v. Hendrickson that an arrestee is not required to prove the subjective intent of the jailer to establish an excessive force claim.

The case resolves a long-standing question about the constitutional standards that apply across the spectrum of arrest and custodial detention.

While the standard applied to on the street arrests, (Fourth Amendment) and the standard applied to convicted inmates, (Eighth Amendment), have been clearly established for decades, the standard applied in the interim has presented a lingering mystery.

Yesterday’s decision in Kingsley resovles that ambiguity, but what is the practical impact of the decision?

Following Kingsley, jailers who use force against an arrestee must justify their conduct without resort to self-serving explanations, or wildly speculative fears, and the arrestee is entitled to prevail without establishing some intent to harm by the jailer.

The decision marks a possible shift in the Court’s perception of how constitutional claims are analyzed in the context of jails and prisons, which could usher in a new era of constitutional litigation over standards that apply in other areas, such as medical care, mental heath care, and conditions of confinement.

If you have questions about excessive force, or jail and prison litigation, contact the attorneys at Bryan & Terrill Law, 918-935-2777.