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Graham v. Connor Case Brief

Summary of Graham v. Connor
490 U.S. 386 (1989)

Facts: Graham suffered from insulin reaction and went to store to buy orange juice.  But due to long lines, he came right out and asked the friend to drive him to another friend’s house.  An officer observed the quick entry and exit of Graham from the store and because suspicious. Officer made and investigatory stop and the events that pursued gave rise to the use of excessive force claim by Graham against individual officers.

Issue: What constitutional standard governs a free citizen’s claim that law enforcement officials used excessive force in the course of making an arrest, investigatory stop, or other seizure of his person?

Holding: 4th Amendment Reasonableness test

Rationale: The appellate court erred by applying the 4 step substantive due process test.  4th Amendment is the most appropriate place to start in this type of cases.  The reasonableness of a particular seizure under 4th Amendment not only depends on when the seizure was made, but also on how it was made.  In considering the reasonableness of the actions of the officers, the court is required to balance the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual’s 4th Amendment interests against the countervailing governmental interests at stake.  Court can consider factors such as whether the suspect poses an immediate threat, whether suspect is actively resisting arrest, etc.  Also, in judging the reasonableness of officer’s action, an objective standard will be used.  The subjective thoughts of the officers are irrelevant.  Furthermore, in this objective test, the court cannot use the benefit of hindsight.

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