Scott vs. Harris

Topics: Supreme Court of the United States, Police, First Amendment to the United States Constitution Pages: 3 (970 words) Published: March 23, 2011
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372 (2007)
March 15, 2011

This essay will be about the consequences of the Scott vs. Harris case on law enforcement in regards to police pursuits. The essay will first briefly describe the circumstances that led to the court case and the final ruling. I will then explain what implementations and policies Chief Executive Officers in police departments may have to execute when law enforcement officers are involved in a high speed pursuit.

Scott v. Harris was a case heard and ultimately decided by the United States Supreme Court. This case involved a grievance against a law enforcement officer brought on by a motorist who was paralyzed after the officer ran his evading car off the road during a high-speed chase. Harris argued that this act of aggression was an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment. The court case also implicated the matter of whether Officer Scott’s qualified immunity protected him from another charge under Section 1983. On April 30, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court favored with Scott and ruled that a law enforcement officer's effort to end a hazardous high-speed car chase that places the lives of innocent onlooker in jeopardy does not infringe the Fourth Amendment, even when it may place the escaping driver in danger of severe injury or possible death. The members of the court merely applied the rationality test from the Fourth Amendment. No matter whether the act by Officer Scott was deadly force or not, the court agreed that what is of concern is whether the actions was rational and within reason. The court obviously believed that Mr. Harris deliberately positioned himself and the general public in jeopardy by partaking in a high speed pursuit. For the reason that high-speed police pursuits are of the dangerous in nature, chief executive officers of policing departments must create suitable policies overseeing the actions of their officers during such...

References: MacDonald, J.M. and G. P. Alpert. (1998). Public Attitudes toward Police Pursuit Driving. Journal of Criminal Justice 26, 185-194.
Pipes, Chris and Pape, Dominick. (July, 2001). Police Pursuits and Civil Liability. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. Retrieved March 15, 2011 from
Scott vs. Harris. (2008). Facts of the Case. Chicago-Kent College of Law. Retrieved March 15, 2011 from
Yates, Travis. May 02, 2007. Scott v. Harris: The Supreme Court decision and its impact on law enforcement. Retrieved March 15, 2011 from
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