Category: Government


 

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Judge: Arlene’s Flowers owner can be sued in her personal capacity

The owner of a Richland flower shop being sued over her refusal to provide services for a same-sex wedding can be held personally liable in the case, a Benton County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday.

The state attorney general and the couple both filed lawsuits against Barronelle Stutzman and her Arlene’s Flowers shop in 2013, after Stutzman declined to provide services for the couple’s wedding.

Stutzman, a Christian, has cited her religious beliefs about marriage.

Her attorneys said the claims against her in her personal capacity should be dropped, calling them unprecedented and unjust, while attorneys for the state and the couple argued that the law is clear about personal liability.

In his decision, Judge Alex Ekstrom sided with the state and couple, writing that “the clear language” of the Consumer Protection Act and state anti-discrimination law “supports both individual and corporate liability.”

Ekstrom did toss out one of the couple’s claims — that Stutzman aided her business in violating the state anti-discrimination law, writing that the law’s “aiding and abetting language does not apply to an individual ‘acting alone.’ ” The couple, who are represented by attorneys working with the ACLU of Washington, have conceded that claim should be dismissed.

Kristen Waggoner, one of Stutzman’s attorneys, said Wednesday that, “we’re disappointed in the ruling,” noting it means Stutzman would be on the hook personally for civil penalties and attorney fees should she lose.

Waggoner is senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom.

In his 35-page decision, Ekstrom also upheld the Attorney General’s authority to bring its suit under the Consumer Protection Act, writing that, “the court concludes that the Legislature intended to allow the (attorney general) independent unfettered authority to bring this action.”

Stutzman’s attorneys have argued that the state’s lawsuit is based on an “unprecedented interpretation” of state law and goes against its specific terms and decades of practice by successive attorneys general…

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Washington State Constitution

ARTICLE I – DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

SECTION 11 RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state.

No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or the support of any religious establishment: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That this article shall not be so construed as to forbid the employment by the state of a chaplain for such of the state custodial, correctional, and mental institutions, or by a county’s or public hospital district’s hospital, health care facility, or hospice, as in the discretion of the legislature may seem justified. No religious qualification shall be required for any public office or employment, nor shall any person be incompetent as a witness or juror, in consequence of his opinion on matters of religion, nor be questioned in any court of justice touching his religious belief to affect the weight of his testimony. [AMENDMENT 88, 1993 House Joint Resolution No. 4200, p 3062. Approved November 2, 1993.]

Amendment 34 (1957) — Art. 1 Section 11 RELIGIOUS FREEDOM — Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state. No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or the support of any religious establishment: Provided, however, That this article shall not be so construed as to forbid the employment by the state of a chaplain for such of the state custodial, correctional and mental institutions as in the discretion of the legislature may seem justified. No religious qualification shall be required for any public office or employment, nor shall any person be incompetent as a witness or juror, in consequence of his opinion on matters of religion, nor be questioned in any court of justice touching his religious belief to affect the weight of his testimony. [AMENDMENT 34, 1957 Senate Joint Resolution No. 14, p 1299. Approved November 4, 1958.]

Amendment 4 (1904) — Art. 1 Section 11 RELIGIOUS FREEDOM — Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state. No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or the support of any religious establishment. Provided, however, That this article shall not be so construed as to forbid the employment by the state of a chaplain for the state penitentiary, and for such of the state reformatories as in the discretion of the legislature may seem justified. No religious qualification shall be required for any public office or employment, nor shall any person be incompetent as a witness or juror, in consequence of his opinion on matters of religion, nor be questioned in any court of justice touching his religious belief to affect the weight of his testimony. [AMENDMENT 4, 1903 p 283 Section 1. Approved November, 1904.]

Original text — Art. 1 Section 11 RELIGIOUS FREEDOM — Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief, and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person, or property, on account of religion; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state. No public money or property shall be appropriated for, or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or the support of any religious establishment. No religious qualification shall be required for any public office, or employment, nor shall any person be incompetent as a witness, or juror, in consequence of his opinion on matters of religion, nor be questioned in any court of justice touching his religious belief to affect the weight of his testimony.

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Piercing the corporate veil or lifting the corporate veil is a legal decision to treat the rights or duties of a corporation as the rights or liabilities of its shareholders. Usually a corporation is treated as a separate legal person, which is solely responsible for the debts it incurs and the sole beneficiary of the credit it is owed. Common law countries usually uphold this principle of separate personhood, but in exceptional situations may “pierce” or “lift” the corporate veil.

A simple example would be where a businessman has left his job as a director and has signed a contract to not compete with the company he has just left for a period of time. If he sets up a company which competed with his former company, technically it would be the company and not the person competing. But it is likely a court would say that the new company was just a “sham”, a “fraud” or some other phrase, and would still allow the old company to sue the man for breach of contract. A court would look beyond the legal fiction to the reality of the situation.

Despite the terminology used which makes it appear as though a shareholder’s limited liability emanates from the view that a corporation is a separate legal entity, the reality is that the entity status of corporations has almost nothing to do with shareholder limited liability.[2] For example, English law conferred entity status on corporations long before shareholders were afforded limited liability. Similarly, the Revised Uniform Partnership Act confers entity status on partnerships, but also provides that partners are individually liable for all partnership obligations. Therefore, this shareholder limited liability emanates mainly from statute.

Corporations exist in part to shield the personal assets of shareholders from personal liability for the debts or actions of a corporation. Unlike a general partnership or sole proprietorship in which the owner could be held responsible for all the debts of the company, a corporation traditionally limited the personal liability of the shareholders. The limits of this protection have narrowed in recent years. Shareholders are increasingly personally liable.

Piercing the corporate veil typically is most effective with smaller privately held business entities (close corporations) in which the corporation has a small number of shareholders, limited assets, and recognition of separateness of the corporation from its shareholders would promote fraud or an inequitable result.

There is no record of a successful piercing of the corporate veil for a publicly traded corporation because of the large number of shareholders and the extensive mandatory filings entailed in qualifying for listing on an exchange.

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In the United States, corporate veil piercing is the most litigated issue in corporate law. Although courts are reluctant to hold an active shareholder liable for actions that are legally the responsibility of the corporation, even if the corporation has a single shareholder, they will often do so if the corporation was markedly noncompliant, or if holding only the corporation liable would be singularly unfair to the plaintiff. In most jurisdictions, no bright-line rule exists and the ruling is based on common law precedents. In the United States, different theories, most important “alter ego” or “instrumentality rule”, attempted to create a piercing standard. Mostly, they rest upon three basic prongs—namely “unity of interest and ownership”, “wrongful conduct” and “proximate cause”. However, the theories failed to articulate a real-world approach which courts could directly apply to their cases. Thus, courts struggle with the proof of each prong and rather analyze all given factors. This is known as “totality of circumstances”.

There is also the matter of what jurisdiction the corporation is incorporated in if the corporation is authorized to do business in more than one state. All corporations have one specific state (their “home” state) to which they are incorporated as a “domestic” corporation, and if they operate in other states, they would apply for authority to do business in those other states as a “foreign” corporation. In determining whether or not the corporate veil may be pierced, the courts are required to use the laws of the corporation’s home state. This issue can be significant, for example, the rules for allowing a corporate veil to be pierced are much more liberal in California than they are in Nevada, thus, the owner(s) of a corporation operating in California would be subject to different potential for the corporation’s veil to be pierced if the corporation was to be sued, depending on whether the corporation was a California domestic corporation or was a Nevada foreign corporation operating in California.

Generally, the plaintiff has to prove that the incorporation was merely a formality and that the corporation neglected corporate formalities and protocols, such as voting to approve major corporate actions in the context of a duly authorized corporate meeting. This is quite often the case when a corporation facing legal liability transfers its assets and business to another corporation with the same management and shareholders. It also happens with single person corporations that are managed in a haphazard manner. As such, the veil can be pierced in both civil cases and where regulatory proceedings are taken against a shell corporation.

Factors for courts to consider

  • Absence or inaccuracy of corporate records;
  • Concealment or misrepresentation of members;
  • Failure to maintain arm’s length relationships with related entities;
  • Failure to observe corporate formalities in terms of behavior and documentation;
  • Failure to pay dividends;
  • Intermingling of assets of the corporation and of the shareholder;
  • Manipulation of assets or liabilities to concentrate the assets or liabilities;
  • Non-functioning corporate officers and/or directors;
  • Significant undercapitalization of the business entity (capitalization requirements vary based on industry, location, and specific company circumstances);
  • Siphoning of corporate funds by the dominant shareholder(s);
  • Treatment by an individual of the assets of corporation as his/her own;
  • Was the corporation being used as a “façade” for dominant shareholder(s) personal dealings; alter ego theory;

It is important to note that not all of these factors need to be met in order for the court to pierce the corporate veil. Further, some courts might find that one factor is so compelling in a particular case that it will find the shareholders personally liable.

Undercapitalization

  • Minton v. Cavaney, 56 Cal. 2d 576 (1961). Mr. Minton’s daughter drowned in the public swimming pool owned by Mr. Cavaney. Then-Associate Justice Roger J. Traynor (later Chief Justice) of the Supreme Court of California held: “The equitable owners of a corporation, for example, are personally liable…when they provide inadequate capitalization and actively participate in the conduct of corporate affairs.”
  • Kinney Shoe Corp. v. Polan, 939 F.2d 209 (4th Cir. 1991). The veil was pierced where its enforcement would not have matched the purpose of limited liability. Here a corporation was undercapitalized and was only used to shield a shareholder’s other company from debts.

Internal Revenue Service

In recent years, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States has made use of corporate veil piercing arguments and logic as a means of recapturing income, estate, or gift tax revenue, particularly from business entities created primarily for estate planning purposes. A number of U.S. Tax Court cases involving Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs), such as Strangi, Hackl, Shepherd, and Bongard, show the IRS’s use of veil-piercing arguments. Since owners of U.S. business entities created for asset protection and estate purposes often fail to maintain proper corporate compliance, the IRS has achieved multiple high-profile court victories.

 Source:  Wiki

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‘Fiat justitia et ruant coeli’

LB ;(

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The GOP Leadership’s Attitude Toward Its Own Base Is Unprecedented

Rush Limbaugh

When you think about it, the Republican leadership’s attitude toward its own base is pretty much unprecedented.  The Democrat Party never, at least publicly, rejects its base or impugns its base or makes fun of its base or wishes its base didn’t exist.  The Democrat Party never, ever publicly does anything to diminish the image of their base, the reality, the existence of their base. They never do anything to humiliate them, and the Republican Party thrives on it.

The Republican Party is doing everything it can to dismantle its own base, as identified by the Tea Party.  It’s doing everything it can to impugn them, to join the Democrats in mocking and making fun and to render their base, their own base impotent, which is why I spent so much time yesterday explaining the modern composition of the current establishment Inside the Beltway.

Anyway, it’s fascinating to watch all this take place, and you all are flooding the zone in Washington, phone calls and e-mails, text and Twitter messages, hashtags.  They’re being inundated in the capital city by many of you who are simply fed up at the fact that they don’t get it and are not listening.

I mean, I can’t emphasize how really unprecedented this situation is for the Republican Party leadership, its attitude toward its own base…

Many people think the Republican Party needs new leadership.  For many people it couldn’t be more clear.  Republicans across this country spoke and have been speaking, but they spoke most recently in the November elections.  But it’s not just elections.  Landslide elections to recent polling demonstrate overwhelming no confidence in current leadership.

I don’t think there is any mistaking the direction Republican voters seek.  I don’t think there’s anything ambivalent about any of this.  And I don’t think there’s any room for misunderstanding.  You can do all the Google analytics you want, but I don’t think there’s any level, any reason, there’s not even any room for misinterpretation here.  This is perfectly clear what has happened.  As far as Republican voters are concerned, from amnesty, to Obamacare, to spending, to the budget, there is no uncertainty; they want Obama stopped…

Let’s face it, they think the Tea Party’s a bunch of kooks.  They think the Tea Party’s a bunch of — well, some they think are decent people, they just don’t get it how Washington works.  They’re rubes, and they just don’t get it.  The typical way the Democrats have always looked at people.  Democrats hold average Americans in contempt, by definition.  Democrats look at individuals and see helplessness and hopelessness, and the Democrats believe that everybody needs to be saved from themselves because nobody has the guts or the ability to take care of themselves…

And so the Republican Party, which used to have a real connection with the people who make this country work, Republican leadership’s in the process of losing that connection, losing their audience, is the term, if this were media.  It isn’t media; it’s politics.  They’re losing their base.

They’re losing the connection they have with their voters who are the ones who really make this country work.  And those people, people who make this country work in increasing numbers, don’t trust Boehner and others in the Republican leadership, and they don’t trust Washington as a whole.  They trust in God.  That’s another story from yesterday we’re gonna get to, the fact that American exceptionalism is actually rooted in Christianity and — it’s a Wall Street Journal story, December 30th — about how many people in this country actually are Christian.  It will stun you.

The Republican base trusts in God, trusts in families, free markets, Constitution.  And they’re sick of the BS.  Sick of being told what to eat; sick of being told what to drive; sick of being told how to keep warm; sick of being told it’s cold in Chicago in December, January, when it’s supposed to be, they already know it’s cold. And they’re sick of being told how to stay warm when it gets cold.  They’re sick of being insulted.

 

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Boehner takes revenge

Politico

John Boehner is getting revenge.

After he secured his third term as speaker Tuesday afternoon, losing 25 votes on the House floor to some relative-unknown members of the Republican Conference, Boehner moved swiftly to boot two of the insurgents from the influential Rules Committee. That could be just the start of payback for the speaker’s betrayers, who might see subcommittee chairmanships and other perks fall away in the coming months…

Members are already making noises about reversing any punitive action by Boehner and the leadership, although the speaker’s allies warn that further retaliation could be on the way.

The House Republican leadership is carefully reviewing the list of members who voted against the speaker and those who opposed a procedural motion in December on the so-called “crominibus,” the $1.1 trillion spending package to keep the government open through to September. Top Republican sources suggested that the process could take months to unfold…

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Pollster Pat Caddell: One-Third of GOP ‘Hanging by a Thread from Bolting’

“The alienation among Republican voters is so high,” says Caddell, that conservatively “a quarter to one-third of the Republican party are hanging by a thread from bolting.” Caddell argues that GOP voters’ attitudes are “so anti-establishment,” and they give Republican leadership poor ratings.

The revelation comes on the heels of polling data supervised by Caddell Associates and reported on Friday by Breitbart News that a stupefying 60% of Republicans who voted in the November elections either definitely or probably want someone other than Ohio Congressman John Boehner to be the Speaker of the House…

His latest poll shows that Republican voters are reaching a tipping point and may have had enough of GOP lawmakers’ feckless leadership and constant submission to President Obama’s policies…

Breitbart’s Chairman asked Caddell “does the math show you that there could be an uprising and could the GOP go the way of the Whig Party?” Caddell answered by reminding Bannon that the estimate that one-quarter to one-third are hanging on by a thread is a conservative one. He explained:

The GOP leadership, the lawyers, the lobbyists, the consultant class of the Republican party, and all the big donors don’t understand that these people are angry. … They are saying that John Boehner doesn’t care about them, and all he cares about is the special interests. I’ve never seen anything like this in the base of a party. And that is why the analogy to the Whigs is not so far-fetched.

 10384827_731136063660265_4284764337024079905_nBuddy and his new BFF!

How Georgia’s Congressmen Voted For House Speaker

PeachPundit

In case you were wondering, the following is how the Georgia House Delegation voted:

Buddy Carter (GA-1) – Boehner
Sanford Bishop (GA-2) – Pelosi
Lynn Westmoreland (GA-3) – Boehner
Hank Johnson (GA-4) – Pelosi
John Lewis (GA-5) – Pelosi
Tom Price (GA-6) – Boehner
Rob Woodall (GA-7) – Boehner
Austin Scott (GA-8) – Boehner
Doug Collins (GA-9) – Boehner
Jody Hice (GA-10) – Boehner
Barry Loudermilk (GA-11) – Boehner
Rick Allen (GA-12) – Boehner
David Scott (GA-13) – Pelosi
Tom Graves (GA-14) – Boehner

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The so called conservatives, like Blackburn, Gowdy and many others left these brave 25 congressmen out to hang.  The frauds got exposed today. 2016 is really close, and the so-called conservatives who voted today for tax and spend, big government, tyranny loving Boehner, will be coming to you for your votes next year. When they come begging for your votes, when they come claiming to be conservative, when they come claiming to “stand up to washington”, please ask them how they voted for Speaker today. The base will remember who voted for this fool!

LB ;(

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Per wiki, the presumption of innocence, sometimes referred to by the Latin expression Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof is on he who declares, not on he who denies), is the principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty. In the US, presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact, who is restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and in most cases lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If reasonable doubt remains, the accused is to be acquitted.

In sources from common law jurisdictions, the expression appears in an extended version, in its original form and then in a shortened form (and in each case the translation provided varies). As extended, it is: Ei incumbit probatio, qui dicit, non qui negat; cum per rerum naturam factum negantis probatio nulla sit—”The proof lies upon him who affirms, not upon him who denies; since, by the nature of things, he who denies a fact cannot produce any proof.” As found in its original form, it is (as above): Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat—”The proof lies upon the one who affirms, not the one who denies.”  Then, shortened from the original, it is: Ei incumbit probatio qui—”the onus of proving a fact rests upon the man who”.

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“Presumption of innocence” serves to emphasize that the prosecution has the obligation to prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt (or some other level of proof depending on the criminal justice system) and that the accused bears no burden of proof. This is often expressed in the phrase innocent until proven guilty, coined by the English lawyer Sir William Garrow (1760–1840). Garrow insisted that accusers be robustly tested in court. An objective observer in the position of the juror must reasonably conclude that the defendant almost certainly committed the crime.

The presumption of innocence is in fact a legal instrument created by the French cardinal and jurist Jean Lemoine to favor the accused based on the legal inference that most people are not criminals. It is literally considered favorable evidence for the accused that automatically attaches at trial. It requires that the trier of fact, be it a juror or judge, begin with the presumption that the state is unable to support its assertion. To ensure this legal protection is maintained a set of three related rules govern the procedure of criminal trials. The presumption means:

  1. With respect to the critical facts of the case – whether the crime charged was committed and whether the defendant was the person who committed the crime – the state has the entire burden of proof.
  2. With respect to the critical facts of the case, the defendant does not have any burden of proof whatsoever. The defendant does not have to testify, call witnesses or present any other evidence, and if the defendant elects not to testify or present evidence, this decision cannot be used against them.
  3. The jury or judge is not to draw any negative inferences from the fact the defendant has been charged with a crime and is present in court and represented by an attorney. They must decide the case solely on evidence presented during the trial.

This duty on the prosecution was famously referred to as the “golden thread” in the criminal law by Lord Sankey LC in Woolmington v DPP [1935] AC 462:

“Throughout the web of the English criminal law one golden thread is always to be seen – that it is the duty of the prosecution to prove the prisoner’s guilt subject to what I have already said as to the defence of insanity and subject also to any statutory exception…”

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U.S. Supreme Court

TENNESSEE v. GARNER, 471 U.S. 1 (1985)

471 U.S. 1 TENNESSEE v. GARNER ET AL.
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

No. 83-1035.

Argued October 30, 1984
Decided March 27, 1985 *

A Tennessee statute provides that if, after a police officer has given notice of an intent to arrest a criminal suspect, the suspect flees or forcibly resists, “the officer may use all the necessary means to effect the arrest.” Acting under the authority of this statute, a Memphis police officer shot and killed appellee-respondent Garner’s son as, after being told to halt, the son fled over a fence at night in the backyard of a house he was suspected of burglarizing. The officer used deadly force despite being “reasonably sure” the suspect was unarmed and thinking that he was 17 or 18 years old and of slight build. The father subsequently brought an action in Federal District Court, seeking damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for asserted violations of his son’s constitutional rights. The District Court held that the statute and the officer’s actions were constitutional. The Court of Appeals reversed.

Held:

The Tennessee statute is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes the use of deadly force against, as in this case, an apparently unarmed, nondangerous fleeing suspect; such force may not be used unless necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. Pp. 7-22. 471 U.S. 1, 2]  

    (a) Apprehension by the use of deadly force is a seizure subject to the Fourth Amendment’s reasonableness requirement. To determine whether such a seizure is reasonable, the extent of the intrusion on the suspect’s rights under that Amendment must be balanced against the governmental interests in effective law enforcement. This balancing process demonstrates that, notwithstanding probable cause to seize a suspect, an officer may not always do so by killing him. The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. Pp. 7-12.
    (b) The Fourth Amendment, for purposes of this case, should not be construed in light of the common-law rule allowing the use of whatever force is necessary to effect the arrest of a fleeing felon. Changes in the legal and technological context mean that that rule is distorted almost beyond recognition when literally applied. Whereas felonies were formerly capital crimes, few are now, or can be, and many crimes classified as misdemeanors, or nonexistent, at common law are now felonies. Also, the common-law rule developed at a time when weapons were rudimentary. And, in light of the varied rules adopted in the States indicating a long-term movement away from the common-law rule, particularly in the police departments themselves, that rule is a dubious indicium of the constitutionality of the Tennessee statute. There is no indication that holding a police practice such as that authorized by the statute unreasonable will severely hamper effective law enforcement. Pp. 12-20.
    (c) While burglary is a serious crime, the officer in this case could not reasonably have believed that the suspect – young, slight, and unarmed – posed any threat. Nor does the fact that an unarmed suspect has broken into a dwelling at night automatically mean he is dangerous. Pp. 20-22.

710 F.2d 240, affirmed and remanded.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. O’CONNOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C. J., and REHNQUIST, J., joined, post, p. 22.

[ Footnote * ] Together with No. 83-1070, Memphis Police Department et al. v. Garner et al., on certiorari to the same court.

Henry L. Klein argued the cause for petitioners in No. 83-1070. With him on the briefs were Clifford D. Pierce, Jr., Charles V. Holmes, and Paul F. Goodman. W. J. Michael Cody, Attorney General of Tennessee, argued the cause for appellant in No. 83-1035. With him on the briefs were William M. Leech, Jr., former Attorney General, and Jerry L. Smith, Assistant Attorney General. 471 U.S. 1, 3]  

Steven L. Winter argued the cause for appellee-respondent Garner. With him on the brief was Walter L. Bailey, Jr.Fn

Fn 471 U.S. 1, 3]   Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association by Deitra Micks; and for the Police Foundation et al. by William Josephson, Robert Kasanof, Philip Lacovara, and Margaret Bush Wilson.

JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case requires us to determine the constitutionality of the use of deadly force to prevent the escape of an apparently unarmed suspected felon. We conclude that such force may not be used unless it is necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.

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Whenever an officer restrains the freedom of a person to walk away, he has seized that person. United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 878 (1975). While it is not always clear just when minimal police interference becomes a seizure, see United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544 (1980), there can be no question that apprehension by the use of deadly force is a seizure subject to the reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment.

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A police officer may arrest a person if he has probable cause to believe that person committed a crime. E. g., United States v. Watson, 423 U.S. 411 (1976). Petitioners and appellant argue that if this requirement is satisfied the Fourth Amendment has nothing to say about how that seizure is made. This submission ignores the many cases in which this Court, by balancing the extent of the intrusion against the need for it, has examined the reasonableness of 471 U.S. 1, 8]   the manner in which a search or seizure is conducted. To determine the constitutionality of a seizure “[w]e must balance the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests against the importance of the governmental interests alleged to justify the intrusion.” United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696, 703 (1983); see Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 654 (1979); United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 555 (1976). We have described “the balancing of competing interests” as “the key principle of the Fourth Amendment.” Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692, 700 , n. 12 (1981). See also Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523, 536 -537 (1967). Because one of the factors is the extent of the intrusion, it is plain that reasonableness depends on not only when a seizure is made, but also how it is carried out. United States v. Ortiz, 422 U.S. 891, 895 (1975); Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 28 -29 (1968).

Applying these principles to particular facts, the Court has held that governmental interests did not support a lengthy detention of luggage, United States v. Place, supra, an airport seizure not “carefully tailored to its underlying justification,” Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 500 (1983) (plurality opinion), surgery under general anesthesia to obtain evidence, Winston v. Lee, 470 U.S. 753 (1985), or detention for fingerprinting without probable cause, Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721 (1969); Hayes v. Florida, 470 U.S. 811 (1985). On the other hand, under the same approach it has upheld the taking of fingernail scrapings from a suspect, Cupp v. Murphy, 412 U.S. 291 (1973), an unannounced entry into a home to prevent the destruction of evidence, Ker v. California, 374 U.S. 23 (1963), administrative housing inspections without probable cause to believe that a code violation will be found, Camara v. Municipal Court, supra, and a blood test of a drunken-driving suspect, Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966). In each of these cases, the question was whether 471 U.S. 1, 9]   the totality of the circumstances justified a particular sort of search or seizure.

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The same balancing process applied in the cases cited above demonstrates that, notwithstanding probable cause to seize a suspect, an officer may not always do so by killing him. The intrusiveness of a seizure by means of deadly force is unmatched. The suspect’s fundamental interest in his own life need not be elaborated upon. The use of deadly force also frustrates the interest of the individual, and of society, in judicial determination of guilt and punishment. Against these interests are ranged governmental interests in effective law enforcement. 8 It is argued that overall violence will be reduced by encouraging the peaceful submission of suspects who know that they may be shot if they flee. Effectiveness in making arrests requires the resort to deadly 471 U.S. 1, 10]   force, or at least the meaningful threat thereof. “Being able to arrest such individuals is a condition precedent to the state’s entire system of law enforcement.” Brief for Petitioners 14.

Without in any way disparaging the importance of these goals, we are not convinced that the use of deadly force is a sufficiently productive means of accomplishing them to justify the killing of nonviolent suspects. Cf. Delaware v. Prouse, supra, at 659. The use of deadly force is a self-defeating way of apprehending a suspect and so setting the criminal justice mechanism in motion. If successful, it guarantees that that mechanism will not be set in motion. And while the meaningful threat of deadly force might be thought to lead to the arrest of more live suspects by discouraging escape attempts, 9 the presently available evidence does not support this thesis. 10 The fact is that a majority of police departments 471 U.S. 1, 11]   in this country have forbidden the use of deadly force against nonviolent suspects. See infra, at 18-19. If those charged with the enforcement of the criminal law have abjured the use of deadly force in arresting nondangerous felons, there is a substantial basis for doubting that the use of such force is an essential attribute of the arrest power in all felony cases. See Schumann v. McGinn, 307 Minn. 446, 472, 240 N. W. 2d 525, 540 (1976) (Rogosheske, J., dissenting in part). Petitioners and appellant have not persuaded us that shooting nondangerous fleeing suspects is so vital as to outweigh the suspect’s interest in his own life.

The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape. Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so. It is no doubt unfortunate when a suspect who is in sight escapes, but the fact that the police arrive a little late or are a little slower afoot does not always justify killing the suspect. A police officer may not seize an unarmed, nondangerous suspect by shooting him dead. The Tennessee statute is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes the use of deadly force against such fleeing suspects.

It is not, however, unconstitutional on its face. Where the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others, it is not constitutionally unreasonable to prevent escape by using deadly force. Thus, if the suspect threatens the officer with a weapon or there is probable cause to believe that he has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm, deadly force may be used if necessary to prevent escape, and if, where 471 U.S. 1, 12]   feasible, some warning has been given. As applied in such circumstances, the Tennessee statute would pass constitutional muster.

It is insisted that the Fourth Amendment must be construed in light of the common-law rule, which allowed the use of whatever force was necessary to effect the arrest of a fleeing felon, though not a misdemeanant. As stated in Hale’s posthumously published Pleas of the Crown:

    “[I]f persons that are pursued by these officers for felony or the just suspicion thereof . . . shall not yield themselves to these officers, but shall either resist or fly before they are apprehended or being apprehended shall rescue themselves and resist or fly, so that they cannot be otherwise apprehended, and are upon necessity slain therein, because they cannot be otherwise taken, it is no felony.” 2 M. Hale, Historia Placitorum Coronae 85 (1736).

See also 4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries *289. Most American jurisdictions also imposed a flat prohibition against the use of deadly force to stop a fleeing misdemeanant, coupled with a general privilege to use such force to stop a fleeing felon. E. g., Holloway v. Moser, 193 N.C. 185, 136 S. E. 375 (1927); State v. Smith, 127 Iowa 534, 535, 103 N. W. 944, 945 (1905); Reneau v. State, 70 Tenn. 720 (1879); Brooks v. Commonwealth, 61 Pa. 352 (1869); Roberts v. State, 14 Mo. 138 (1851); see generally R. Perkins & R. Boyce, Criminal Law 1098-1102 (3d ed. 1982); Day, Shooting the Fleeing Felon: State of the Law, 14 Crim. L. Bull. 285, 286-287 (1978); Wilgus, Arrest Without a Warrant, 22 Mich. L. Rev. 798, 807-816 (1924). But see Storey v. State, 71 Ala. 329 (1882); State v. Bryant, 65 N.C. 327, 328 (1871); Caldwell v. State, 41 Tex. 86 (1874). 471 U.S. 1, 13]  

The State and city argue that because this was the prevailing rule at the time of the adoption of the Fourth Amendment and for some time thereafter, and is still in force in some States, use of deadly force against a fleeing felon must be “reasonable.” It is true that this Court has often looked to the common law in evaluating the reasonableness, for Fourth Amendment purposes, of police activity. See, e. g., United States v. Watson, 423 U.S. 411, 418 -419 (1976); Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 111 , 114 (1975); Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 149 -153 (1925). On the other hand, it “has not simply frozen into constitutional law those law enforcement practices that existed at the time of the Fourth Amendment’s passage.” Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 591 , n. 33 (1980). Because of sweeping change in the legal and technological context, reliance on the common-law rule in this case would be a mistaken literalism that ignores the purposes of a historical inquiry.

CVS_TNY_09_01_14RGB2-690-942

It has been pointed out many times that the common-law rule is best understood in light of the fact that it arose at a time when virtually all felonies were punishable by death. 11 “Though effected without the protections and formalities of an orderly trial and conviction, the killing of a resisting or 471 U.S. 1, 14]   fleeing felon resulted in no greater consequences than those authorized for punishment of the felony of which the individual was charged or suspected.” American Law Institute, Model Penal Code 3.07, Comment 3, p. 56 (Tentative Draft No. 8, 1958) (hereinafter Model Penal Code Comment). Courts have also justified the common-law rule by emphasizing the relative dangerousness of felons. See, e. g., Schumann v. McGinn, 307 Minn., at 458, 240 N. W. 2d, at 533; Holloway v. Moser, supra, at 187, 136 S. E., at 376 (1927).

Neither of these justifications makes sense today. Almost all crimes formerly punishable by death no longer are or can be. See, e. g., Enmund v. Florida, 458 U.S. 782 (1982); Coker v. Georgia, 433 U.S. 584 (1977). And while in earlier times “the gulf between the felonies and the minor offences was broad and deep,” 2 Pollock & Maitland 467, n. 3; Carroll v. United States, supra, at 158, today the distinction is minor and often arbitrary. Many crimes classified as misdemeanors, or nonexistent, at common law are now felonies. Wilgus, 22 Mich. L. Rev., at 572-573. These changes have undermined the concept, which was questionable to begin with, that use of deadly force against a fleeing felon is merely a speedier execution of someone who has already forfeited his life. They have also made the assumption that a “felon” is more dangerous than a misdemeanant untenable. Indeed, numerous misdemeanors involve conduct more dangerous than many felonies. 12

There is an additional reason why the common-law rule cannot be directly translated to the present day. The common-law rule developed at a time when weapons were rudimentary. Deadly force could be inflicted almost solely in a hand-to-hand struggle during which, necessarily, the safety 471 U.S. 1, 15]   of the arresting officer was at risk. Handguns were not carried by police officers until the latter half of the last century. L. Kennett & J. Anderson, The Gun in America 150-151 (1975). Only then did it become possible to use deadly force from a distance as a means of apprehension. As a practical matter, the use of deadly force under the standard articulation of the common-law rule has an altogether different meaning – and harsher consequences – now than in past centuries. See Wechsler & Michael, A Rationale for the Law of Homicide: I, 37 Colum. L. Rev. 701, 741 (1937). 13

One other aspect of the common-law rule bears emphasis. It forbids the use of deadly force to apprehend a misdemeanant, condemning such action as disproportionately severe. See Holloway v. Moser, 193 N.C., at 187, 136 S. E., at 376; State v. Smith, 127 Iowa, at 535, 103 N. W., at 945. See generally Annot., 83 A. L. R. 3d 238 (1978).

In short, though the common-law pedigree of Tennessee’s rule is pure on its face, changes in the legal and technological context mean the rule is distorted almost beyond recognition when literally applied.

453677740-1024x632

In evaluating the reasonableness of police procedures under the Fourth Amendment, we have also looked to prevailing [471 U.S. 1, 16]   rules in individual jurisdictions. See, e. g., United States v. Watson, 423 U.S., at 421 -422. The rules in the States are varied. See generally Comment, 18 Ga. L. Rev. 137, 140-144 (1983). Some 19 States have codified the common-law rule, 14 though in two of these the courts have significantly limited the statute. 15 Four States, though without a relevant statute, apparently retain the common-law rule. 16 Two States have adopted the Model Penal Code’s 471 U.S. 1, 17]   provision verbatim. 17 Eighteen others allow, in slightly varying language, the use of deadly force only if the suspect has committed a felony involving the use or threat of physical or deadly force, or is escaping with a deadly weapon, or is likely to endanger life or inflict serious physical injury if not arrested. 18 Louisiana and Vermont, though without statutes or case law on point, do forbid the use of deadly force to prevent any but violent felonies. 19 The remaining States either have no relevant statute or case law, or have positions that are unclear. 20  471 U.S. 1, 18]  

It cannot be said that there is a constant or overwhelming trend away from the common-law rule. In recent years, some States have reviewed their laws and expressly rejected abandonment of the common-law rule. 21 Nonetheless, the long-term movement has been away from the rule that deadly force may be used against any fleeing felon, and that remains the rule in less than half the States.

This trend is more evident and impressive when viewed in light of the policies adopted by the police departments themselves. Overwhelmingly, these are more restrictive than the common-law rule. C. Milton, J. Halleck, J. Lardner, & G. Abrecht, Police Use of Deadly Force 45-46 (1977). The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department, for example, both forbid the use of firearms except when necessary to prevent death or grievous bodily harm. Id., at 40-41; App. 83. For accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, a department must restrict the use of deadly force to situations where “the officer reasonably believes that the action is in defense of human life . . . or in defense of any person in immediate danger of serious physical injury.” Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies 1-2 (1983) (italics deleted). A 1974 study reported that the police department regulations in a majority of the large cities of the United States allowed the firing of a weapon only when a 471 U.S. 1, 19]   felon presented a threat of death or serious bodily harm. Boston Police Department, Planning & Research Division, The Use of Deadly Force by Boston Police Personnel (1974), cited in Mattis v. Schnarr, 547 F.2d 1007, 1016, n. 19 (CA8 1976), vacated as moot sub nom. Ashcroft v. Mattis, 431 U.S. 171 (1977). Overall, only 7.5% of departmental and municipal policies explicitly permit the use of deadly force against any felon; 86.8% explicitly do not. K. Matulia, A Balance of Forces: A Report of the International Association of Chiefs of Police 161 (1982) (table). See also Record 1108-1368 (written policies of 44 departments). See generally W. Geller & K. Karales, Split-Second Decisions 33-42 (1981); Brief for Police Foundation et al. as Amici Curiae. In light of the rules adopted by those who must actually administer them, the older and fading common-law view is a dubious indicium of the constitutionality of the Tennessee statute now before us.

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Actual departmental policies are important for an additional reason. We would hesitate to declare a police practice of long standing “unreasonable” if doing so would severely hamper effective law enforcement. But the indications are to the contrary. There has been no suggestion that crime has worsened in any way in jurisdictions that have adopted, by legislation or departmental policy, rules similar to that announced today. Amici note that “[a]fter extensive research and consideration, [they] have concluded that laws permitting police officers to use deadly force to apprehend unarmed, non-violent fleeing felony suspects actually do not protect citizens or law enforcement officers, do not deter crime or alleviate problems caused by crime, and do not improve the crime-fighting ability of law enforcement agencies.” Id., at 11. The submission is that the obvious state interests in apprehension are not sufficiently served to warrant the use of lethal weapons against all fleeing felons. See supra, at 10-11, and n. 10. 471 U.S. 1, 20]  

Nor do we agree with petitioners and appellant that the rule we have adopted requires the police to make impossible, split-second evaluations of unknowable facts. See Brief for Petitioners 25; Brief for Appellant 11. We do not deny the practical difficulties of attempting to assess the suspect’s dangerousness. However, similarly difficult judgments must be made by the police in equally uncertain circumstances. See, e. g., Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S., at 20 , 27. Nor is there any indication that in States that allow the use of deadly force only against dangerous suspects, see nn. 15, 17-19, supra, the standard has been difficult to apply or has led to a rash of litigation involving inappropriate second-guessing of police officers’ split-second decisions. Moreover, the highly technical felony/misdemeanor distinction is equally, if not more, difficult to apply in the field. An officer is in no position to know, for example, the precise value of property stolen, or whether the crime was a first or second offense. Finally, as noted above, this claim must be viewed with suspicion in light of the similar self-imposed limitations of so many police departments.

police-shooting-missouri

The District Court concluded that Hymon was justified in shooting Garner because state law allows, and the Federal Constitution does not forbid, the use of deadly force to prevent the escape of a fleeing felony suspect if no alternative means of apprehension is available. See App. to Pet. for Cert. A9-A11, A38. This conclusion made a determination of Garner’s apparent dangerousness unnecessary. The court did find, however, that Garner appeared to be unarmed, though Hymon could not be certain that was the case. Id., at A4, A23. See also App. 41, 56; Record 219. Restated in Fourth Amendment terms, this means Hymon had no articulable basis to think Garner was armed.

In reversing, the Court of Appeals accepted the District Court’s factual conclusions and held that “the facts, as found, did not justify the use of deadly force.” 710 F.2d, at 246. 471 U.S. 1, 21]   We agree. Officer Hymon could not reasonably have believed that Garner – young, slight, and unarmed – posed any threat. Indeed, Hymon never attempted to justify his actions on any basis other than the need to prevent an escape. The District Court stated in passing that “[t]he facts of this case did not indicate to Officer Hymon that Garner was `nondangerous.'” App. to Pet. for Cert. A34. This conclusion is not explained, and seems to be based solely on the fact that Garner had broken into a house at night. However, the fact that Garner was a suspected burglar could not, without regard to the other circumstances, automatically justify the use of deadly force. Hymon did not have probable cause to believe that Garner, whom he correctly believed to be unarmed, posed any physical danger to himself or others.

The dissent argues that the shooting was justified by the fact that Officer Hymon had probable cause to believe that Garner had committed a nighttime burglary. Post, at 29, 32. While we agree that burglary is a serious crime, we cannot agree that it is so dangerous as automatically to justify the use of deadly force. The FBI classifies burglary as a “property” rather than a “violent” crime. See Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports, Crime in the United States 1 (1984). 22 Although the armed burglar would present a different situation, the fact that an unarmed suspect has broken into a dwelling at night does not automatically mean he is physically dangerous. This case demonstrates as much. See also Solem v. Helm, 463 U.S. 277, 296 -297, and nn. 22-23 (1983). In fact, the available statistics demonstrate that burglaries only rarely involve physical violence. During the 10-year period from 1973-1982, only 3.8% of all burglaries involved violent crime. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Household 471 U.S. 1, 22]   Burglary 4 (1985). 23 See also T. Reppetto, Residential Crime 17, 105 (1974); Conklin & Bittner, Burglary in a Suburb, 11 Criminology 208, 214 (1973).

We wish to make clear what our holding means in the context of this case. The complaint has been dismissed as to all the individual defendants. The State is a party only by virtue of 28 U.S.C. 2403(b) and is not subject to liability. The possible liability of the remaining defendants – the Police Department and the city of Memphis – hinges on Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), and is left for remand. We hold that the statute is invalid insofar as it purported to give Hymon the authority to act as he did. As for the policy of the Police Department, the absence of any discussion of this issue by the courts below, and the uncertain state of the record, preclude any consideration of its validity.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

      So ordered.

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[ Footnote 14 ] Ala. Code 13A-3-27 (1982); Ark. Stat. Ann. 41-510 (1977); Cal. Penal Code Ann. 196 (West 1970); Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-22 (1972); Fla. Stat. 776.05 (1983); Idaho Code 19-610 (1979); Ind. Code 35-41-3-3 (1982); Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-3215 (1981); Miss. Code Ann. 97-3-15(d) (Supp. 1984); Mo. Rev. Stat. 563.046 (1979); Nev. Rev. Stat. 200.140 (1983); N. M. Stat. Ann. 30-2-6 (1984); Okla. Stat., Tit. 21, 732 (1981); R. I. Gen. Laws 12-7-9 (1981); S. D. Codified Laws 22-16-32, 22-16-33 (1979); Tenn. Code Ann. 40-7-108 (1982); Wash. Rev. Code 9A.16.040(3) (1977). Oregon limits use of deadly force to violent felons, but also allows its use against any felon if “necessary.” Ore. Rev. Stat. 161.239 (1983). Wisconsin’s statute is ambiguous, but should probably be added to this list. Wis. Stat. 939.45(4) (1981-1982) (officer may use force necessary for “a reasonable accomplishment of a lawful arrest”). But see Clark v. Ziedonis, 368 F. Supp. 544 (ED Wis. 1973), aff’d on other grounds, 513 F.2d 79 (CA7 1975).

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