Hill v. Star et al

Filing 211

ORDER explaining reasoning for omitting qualified immunity instruction. Signed by Judge Thelton E. Henderson on 06/15/2015. (tehlc1, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 6/15/2015)

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1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 3 4 TION ALONZO HILL, Plaintiff, 5 6 7 8 v. JOSHUA ARNOLD, et al., Case No. 09-cv-05434-TEH ORDER EXPLAINING REASONING FOR OMITTING QUALIFIED IMMUNITY INSTRUCTION Defendants. 9 10 Both parties proposed separate jury instructions on qualified immunity. However, United States District Court Northern District of California 11 the Court concludes that no qualified immunity instruction is appropriate in this case, 12 because a finding for Plaintiff on the first two elements of his excessive force claim would 13 preclude a finding for Defendants on their qualified immunity defense. 14 It is clearly established law that “the Due Process Clause [of the Fourteenth 15 Amendment] protects a pretrial detainee from the use of excessive force that amounts to 16 punishment.” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 395 n.10 (1989). It is also clearly 17 established law that “the due process rights of a [pretrial detainee] are at least as great as 18 the Eighth Amendment protections available to a convicted prisoner.” City of Revere v. 19 Mass. Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239, 244 (1983); see also Hydrick v. Hunter, 500 F.3d 978, 20 998 (9th Cir. 2007), vacated on other grounds, 556 U.S. 1256 (2009). And, it is clearly 21 established law that applying force in the prison context “maliciously and sadistically for 22 the very purpose of causing harm” constitutes an Eighth Amendment violation. Whitley v. 23 Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 320-21 (1986). Applying these principles, the Court concludes that 24 every reasonable Sheriff’s deputy would know that it was a violation of Plaintiff’s rights to 25 use excessive force against him with the “purpose . . . to cause harm unrelated to a 26 legitimate law enforcement objective.” Joint Proposed Particular Rights Instruction, Ex. A 27 to Oldfather Decl. (Docket No. 192-1). 28 1 Defendants’ cited cases do not persuade the Court otherwise. In both Marquez v. 2 Gutierrez and Jeffers v. Gomez, there were mere allegations of officer malice, not jury 3 findings, such as would be the case here if the jury finds for Plaintiff on the second 4 element of the Particular Rights Instruction. See Marquez, 322 F.3d 689, 693 (9th Cir. 5 2003); Jeffers, 267 F.3d 895, 911-12 (9th Cir. 2001). Moreover, Defendants’ out-of-circuit 6 cases regarding tight handcuffing in the Fourth Amendment context do not convince the 7 Court that Defendants could be entitled to qualified immunity here, if the jury finds that 8 such handcuffing was done with the intent to cause harm unrelated to a legitimate law 9 enforcement objective. 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 IT IS SO ORDERED. 13 14 15 Dated: 06/15/15 _____________________________________ THELTON E. HENDERSON United States District Judge 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 2

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