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Case Brief Graham v. Connor

Case Brief Guidelines and Rubric
Overview
Many issues in the United States are focused on the application of force in the field of law enforcement. Questions have been raised as to whether criminal justice professionals are applying the least amount of force necessary to gain compliance from an unwilling subject. Because of several recent controversies surrounding the use of deadly force and the treatment of individuals in police custody, many members of society have been extremely critical of the use of force. These controversial issues have created a negative public perception of law enforcement officers, and there have been demonstrations and calls for reform in both the training and hiring of police officers.
For this assignment, you will first read and analyze the Graham v. Connor court decision. This decision is the seminal case that articulates when and how use-of-force situations will be reviewed and judged. As you read the case, consider who the key stakeholders are (police officers, police departments, citizens, etc.) in the controversy and how this issue impacts the field of criminal justice.
Prompt
After reading the case, write a brief in which you address the elements listed below. This case brief will help you address the impact of similar decisions in studying your own issue analysis for the final project. Set up your brief as the sample case brief is set up, and include the answers to the questions in the Analysis section of the brief.
1. Facts: State the facts of the case and why the case went to trial.
2. Issue: State what is at issue in the case.
3. Ruling: State the court’s ruling in the case.
4. Analysis: This section contains the bulk of the brief. In your analysis, address the following:
a. In this case, what standard did the court use to determine whether the use of force was reasonable? For instance, what did the court say about judging the objective reasonableness of the use of force?
b. What perspective did the court use in determining whether the officer acted appropriately in the use of force? What did the court say about using hindsight to determine objective reasonableness?
c. What strategies do you believe should be employed to make sure officers are applying the correct amount of force in any given situation?
d. Analyze the connection between the issue of use of force and what criminological theory contributed to the understanding—or misunderstanding—of these issues.
5. Conclusion: Conclude the case brief by summarizing your analysis.
Reference your textbook reading as well as the case material in your submission. To facilitate this task, refer to the Sample Case Brief document.
What to Submit
Your submission should be at least 1 page in length (in addition to title and reference pages). It should use single spacing, 12-point Times New Roman font, and one-inch margins. Follow APA style for in-text citations and the reference list.

You will also need the following resources to complete this task:
• Sample Case Brief PDF
• Graham v. Connor

Title: Case Brief on Graham v. Connor

Facts:
On November 12, 1984, Dethorne Graham, a diabetic, asked his friend, William Berry, to drive him to a nearby convenience store to buy some orange juice to counteract his insulin reaction. Graham went inside the store, but when he saw a long line, he quickly left and told Berry to drive him to another store. While they were waiting at an intersection, a police officer, Connor, observed Graham behaving strangely and decided to follow him. After following him for a while, Connor pulled over Graham and asked Berry to wait in the car while he investigated. Graham, fearing that he would slip into a diabetic coma, stepped out of his car and ran towards the officer while yelling that he was a diabetic and needed some juice. Connor interpreted Graham’s behavior as that of a suspect and tackled him, which led to some injuries to Graham. Graham sued Connor and the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, for the use of excessive force and violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

Issue:
Whether the use of force in arresting an individual must be analyzed under the Fourth Amendment’s objective reasonableness standard, which requires that the amount of force used is “reasonable” under the circumstances.

Ruling:
The U.S. Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment requires the use of objective reasonableness to evaluate claims of excessive force in the context of an arrest. The court determined that the use of force must be judged by the totality of the circumstances, including the severity of the crime, the level of threat posed by the suspect, and the amount of resistance used by the suspect. Furthermore, the court held that this standard should be viewed from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than from the 20/20 vision of hindsight.

Analysis:
a. The court used the objective reasonableness standard to determine whether the use of force was reasonable. The court held that the use of force must be judged based on the totality of the circumstances, from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene. The court determined that the objective reasonableness of the use of force must be judged based on the circumstances, such as the severity of the crime, the level of threat posed by the suspect, and the amount of resistance used by the suspect.

b. The court used the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene to determine whether the officer acted appropriately in the use of force. The court held that the use of force must be viewed from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than from the perspective of hindsight. The court further held that it is unreasonable to require officers to use “perfect judgment” in the split-second decisions they make when responding to a situation.

c. To ensure that officers are applying the correct amount of force in any given situation, several strategies could be employed. These include providing adequate training to officers on the use of force, providing clear guidelines for the use of force, and creating a culture that values de-escalation and the use of non-lethal force.

d. The issue of use of force is related to criminological theories, particularly social disorganization theory, which suggests that the physical and social characteristics of a community influence the likelihood of crime. The overuse of force in communities that are already marginalized and disenfranchised could further exacerbate social disorganization, leading to increased levels of crime and distrust in law enforcement.

Conclusion:
The Graham v. Connor case is an essential precedent in determining the objective reasonableness of the use of force in law enforcement. The court established that the use of force must be judged based on the totality of the circumstances, from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and that hindsight should

References
Graham v. Connor (1989). Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/490/386
Sample Case Brief PDF
Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the 21st Century, 15th Edition, by Frank Schmalleger.

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