[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] on Monday in Kingsley v. Hendrickson [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] over whether excessive-force claims brought by pre-trial detainees should be governed by the standard applicable to free people on the street, or instead by a standard like the one applicable to convicted criminals in prison. In the case, plaintiff Michael Kingsley argues [transcript, PDF] that his excessive force claim should governed by an objective Fourth Amendment [text] inquiry focusing on “unreasonable” searches and seizures, as are typical excessive force claims. In cases of convicted persons, people are generally treated as lawfully “seized,” rendering the Fourth Amendment largely inapplicable. At the time of the alleged incidents, Kingsley was in detention awaiting trial.
Allegations regarding the use of excessive force in the US have led the UN Committee Against Torture [official website] to urge the US [JURIST report] to begin prompt, impartial investigations into all cases of police brutality and excessive use of force by police officers, and to limit the use of electrical discharge weapons. Last year advocacy organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International [advocacy websites] issued reports alleging the use of police force and intimidation tactics to dispel largely nonviolent protesters threatens constitutional freedoms [JURIST report].