4 Apr 2022


Scott v. Harris

Format: APA

Academic level: College

Paper type: Essay (Any Type)

Words: 537

Pages: 2

Downloads: 0

Case summary 

Harris was a motorist, who was speeding when he was requested to pull over by an officer. Instead, he chose to flee prompting the car chase by deputy sheriff, Scott. In an effort to stop Harris, Scott’s vehicle hit Harris’s car from the rear part, causing his vehicle to lose control and hit a stationary object and eventually stopping. However, this did not happen without causing serious injuries to Harris. He sued Scott, arguing that he (Scott) violated the Fourth Amendment that prohibits excessive use of force and unwarranted searches. 

Facts of the case 

The main fact was that Harris had violated the speed limit. He had also ignored the officer’s order to pull over because he had already committed an offence. In such a scenario, the officer was justified to use any necessary means within the law to subdue the offender. It is also a fact that Scott’s actions caused major physical injuries to the offender. There was a question of whether excessive force was used. From the damage caused, it is a fact that the officer used excessive force to achieve his objective. However, it is also a fact that the use of the excessive force was justified, because the lives of the pedestrians and other motorists were in danger. The offender was not showing any sign of slowing down. 

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Court’s decisions 

Scott was found guilty by both the District court and Eleventh Circuit. The ruling was that Deputy Scott had used excessive force in dealing with the situation. This was interpreted as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, Scott appealed the ruling in the U.S Supreme Court. While the Supreme Court also found that excessive force had been used, the question was whether Scott’s action was justified. Justice Scalia ruled that the use of excessive force is justified when the lives of innocent people are in threatened. The fleeing offender was putting the lives of pedestrians and other people in danger. Hence, there was a need to ensure that the vehicle was stopped used any means necessary. The decision of the court was also arrived at after reviewing a video showing how the Harris was fleeing, and the potential danger that he could have caused. The court indicated that even if the use of excessive force put the lives of the offender in danger of death, this was still justified provided that the lives of innocent people were protected. 

Personal opinion 

I agree on the Supreme Court’s decision on a number of issues. Firstly, the offender disobeyed the officer’s order to stop. While this does not necessarily warrant the use of excessive force, the events that followed were potentially risky. The police have a duty of maintaining law and order, as well as protecting the lives of the people and their properties. There is no justification in letting the lives of one individual or group of individuals disturb the social order and harmony. The lower courts erred in their decisions by failing to focus on the issue from a wider perspective. The application of the law was also selective. 

While Scott had used excessive force, it was necessary to focus on the situations that led to such a decision. The Court of appeal was justified in ruling in favor of the officer, since he had prevented what could have been deaths of many pedestrians and loss of property. However, the ruling by the Supreme Court should not be used to justify unwarranted searches and use of excessive force by the police officers. This was a unique case. The officer had no much choice than to stop Harris’ vehicle using any means necessary. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Scott v. Harris.


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