Sacramento V Lewis Essay Research Paper County

Sacramento V. Lewis Essay, Research Paper County of Sacramento v. Estate of Phillip Lewis High-speed pursuits by police officers have been debated as to whether they are beyond the limits by putting people in unnecessary danger or if they are justifiable in every aspect. In the case of the County of Sacramento v. the Estate of Phillip Lewis a high-speed pursuit ended in the death of one of the fleeing suspects.

Sacramento V. Lewis Essay, Research Paper

County of Sacramento v. Estate of Phillip Lewis

High-speed pursuits by police officers have been debated as to whether they are beyond the limits by putting people in unnecessary danger or if they are justifiable in every aspect. In the case of the County of Sacramento v. the Estate of Phillip Lewis a high-speed pursuit ended in the death of one of the fleeing suspects. Parents of Phillip Lewis brought claims against the county, sheriff?s department and the deputy involved, saying that the actions taken by the officer and the policy of sheriff?s department are deprivation of life without due process. This case was first taken to the district court then to court of appeals and eventually ended up in the United States Supreme Court.

On May 22, 1990 two Sacramento County sheriff?s deputies were responding to a call to break up a fight. While returning to their cars one of the officers, Murray Stapp noticed a motorcycle moving at rather high speeds. The motorcycle was being operated by 18-year-old Brian Willard and carrying a 16-year-old passenger by the name of Phillip Lewis. Neither the operator nor the passenger of the motorcycle had anything to do with the fight being responded to.

Stapp, in attempt to stop the boys turned on his overhead rotating lights and moved his car closer to the other responding officer?s, James Smith, squad car in order to block the path of the motorcycle. Willard slowly maneuvered the motorcycle through the blocking cars and accelerated away. Both officers immediately switched on their lights and followed in pursuit of the motorcycle. The chase continued for approximately 75 seconds through residential neighborhoods at speeds approaching 100 miles per hour. Smith?s car was following at distances as short as 100 feet. According to the reports, at the speeds they were traveling it would have taken over 650 feet to stop the car.

The chase was finally brought to an end when Willard attempted to turn the motorcycle too sharply and tipped it. Willard was sent flying out of the roadway but Lewis was not. By the time Smith hit the brakes it was too late, he struck Lewis at approximately 40 miles per hour sending him 70 feet down the road. Massive injuries were inflicted and Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene.

The case was first taken to the District Court where the allegations of deprivation of life without due process under the fourteenth amendment were brought against Sacramento County, the Sacramento County Sheriff?s Department and Deputy Smith. In the United States? Constitution the fourteenth amendment reads ?No State shall … deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.?(US Constitution) The court ruled in favor of Smith saying that there were no state or federal opinions prior to May of 1990 supporting the fourteenth amendment protection against high-speed pursuits. The court also referred to a California Vehicle Code ? 17004, which states ?[a] public employee is not liable for civil damages on account of personal injury to or death of any person or damage to property resulting from the operation, in the line of duty, of an authorized emergency vehicle … when in the immediate pursuit of an actual suspected violator of the law.?

Phillip Lewis? parents then took the case to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The court of appeals reversed the decision of the district court. The court stated ?that the appropriate degree of fault for substantive due process liability for high-speed police pursuits is deliberate indifference to, or reckless disregard for, a person?s right to life and personal security.?(Citation) The case of Sacramento v. Lewis was moved into the United States Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court issued a writ of certiorari, ?a writ from a higher court to a lower one requesting a transcript of the proceedings of a case for review.?(American Heritage) After looking over the case Justice Souter issued the opinion of the court on May 26, 1998. He said that ?the issue in this case is whether a police officer violates the Fourteenth Amendment?s guarantee of substantive due process by causing death through deliberate or reckless indifference to life in a high-speed automobile chase aimed at apprehending a suspected offender.?(Souter) The court said that an officer did in fact not violate the due process protection since there was no ?purpose to cause harm unrelated to the legitimate object of arrest.?(Souter)

With the decision in this case of Sacramento v. Lewis cases of deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process when dealing with high-speed pursuits will have a previous decision to look back on. High-speed pursuits are still debated as being worth the risk given to officers, suspects, and even innocent bystanders. In this case Officer Smith also failed to follow many of the procedures of the Sacramento County Sheriff?s Department but that is another case altogether. In United States Supreme Court issued its decision, over eight years after the incident, that fourteenth amendment argument against high-speed pursuits have no standing in court.

County of Sacramento v. Estate of Phillip Lewis

High-speed pursuits by police officers have been debated as to whether they are beyond the limits by putting people in unnecessary danger or if they are justifiable in every aspect. In the case of the County of Sacramento v. the Estate of Phillip Lewis a high-speed pursuit ended in the death of one of the fleeing suspects. Parents of Phillip Lewis brought claims against the county, sheriff?s department and the deputy involved, saying that the actions taken by the officer and the policy of sheriff?s department are deprivation of life without due process. This case was first taken to the district court then to court of appeals and eventually ended up in the United States Supreme Court.

On May 22, 1990 two Sacramento County sheriff?s deputies were responding to a call to break up a fight. While returning to their cars one of the officers, Murray Stapp noticed a motorcycle moving at rather high speeds. The motorcycle was being operated by 18-year-old Brian Willard and carrying a 16-year-old passenger by the name of Phillip Lewis. Neither the operator nor the passenger of the motorcycle had anything to do with the fight being responded to.

Stapp, in attempt to stop the boys turned on his overhead rotating lights and moved his car closer to the other responding officer?s, James Smith, squad car in order to block the path of the motorcycle. Willard slowly maneuvered the motorcycle through the blocking cars and accelerated away. Both officers immediately switched on their lights and followed in pursuit of the motorcycle. The chase continued for approximately 75 seconds through residential neighborhoods at speeds approaching 100 miles per hour. Smith?s car was following at distances as short as 100 feet. According to the reports, at the speeds they were traveling it would have taken over 650 feet to stop the car.

The chase was finally brought to an end when Willard attempted to turn the motorcycle too sharply and tipped it. Willard was sent flying out of the roadway but Lewis was not. By the time Smith hit the brakes it was too late, he struck Lewis at approximately 40 miles per hour sending him 70 feet down the road. Massive injuries were inflicted and Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene.

The case was first taken to the District Court where the allegations of deprivation of life without due process under the fourteenth amendment were brought against Sacramento County, the Sacramento County Sheriff?s Department and Deputy Smith. In the United States? Constitution the fourteenth amendment reads ?No State shall … deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.?(US Constitution) The court ruled in favor of Smith saying that there were no state or federal opinions prior to May of 1990 supporting the fourteenth amendment protection against high-speed pursuits. The court also referred to a California Vehicle Code ? 17004, which states ?[a] public employee is not liable for civil damages on account of personal injury to or death of any person or damage to property resulting from the operation, in the line of duty, of an authorized emergency vehicle … when in the immediate pursuit of an actual suspected violator of the law.?

Phillip Lewis? parents then took the case to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The court of appeals reversed the decision of the district court. The court stated ?that the appropriate degree of fault for substantive due process liability for high-speed police pursuits is deliberate indifference to, or reckless disregard for, a person?s right to life and personal security.?(Citation) The case of Sacramento v. Lewis was moved into the United States Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court issued a writ of certiorari, ?a writ from a higher court to a lower one requesting a transcript of the proceedings of a case for review.?(American Heritage) After looking over the case Justice Souter issued the opinion of the court on May 26, 1998. He said that ?the issue in this case is whether a police officer violates the Fourteenth Amendment?s guarantee of substantive due process by causing death through deliberate or reckless indifference to life in a high-speed automobile chase aimed at apprehending a suspected offender.?(Souter) The court said that an officer did in fact not violate the due process protection since there was no ?purpose to cause harm unrelated to the legitimate object of arrest.?(Souter)

With the decision in this case of Sacramento v. Lewis cases of deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process when dealing with high-speed pursuits will have a previous decision to look back on. High-speed pursuits are still debated as being worth the risk given to officers, suspects, and even innocent bystanders. In this case Officer Smith also failed to follow many of the procedures of the Sacramento County Sheriff?s Department but that is another case altogether. In United States Supreme Court issued its decision, over eight years after the incident, that fourteenth amendment argument against high-speed pursuits have no standing in court.