Business Finance
Emory Ethics in Criminal Justice: Police Failing to Do What They Need to Do

Emory University

Question Description

When police fail to perform their duties, perform them negligently, or abuse their authority, the possibility of civil liability exists. In a Microsoft Word report of 5–7 pages, analyze civil liability as a protective action against unfair treatment by law enforcement agencies. In order to ensure that your analysis is thorough and accurate, include the following in your analysis:

  • Which historical events or features led to civil liability and litigation as it is today?
  • How is civil liability different from officer liability? How is it different from criminal liability?
  • How is civil liability beneficial to law enforcement today?
  • In what ways can police and law enforcement officials protect themselves against civil liability suits?

Final Answer




Civil Liability
Institution Affiliation



Civil liability is the requirement that an individual is held responsible for actions which
have caused harm to other people. The action could be intentional or unintentional. This kind of
liability mostly involves compensating the affected person in the form of money. For civil
liability to be effective, the complainant has substantiated that indeed a property has been
destroyed or that they have been harmed, that there is someone responsible for the damage or
harm and finally should be able to show the relationship between the destruction and the person
purported to carry it out.
Historical events that led to the civil liability and litigations seen today
History of civil liability in the United States dates back to the 19th century when there
was no clear distinction between public officers and civilians. Among the earliest recorded
judgments regarding civil liability is the 1894 case between Miller and Horton. The complainant
had taken the defendant to court on the account that he ordered the killing of his horse following
Massachusetts laws if the horse is suffering from a certain disease. The defendant justified his
action that he was only implementing a directive. In his ruling, the judge said that should the jury
find that the complainant's horse was not suffering from the said disease, then the defendant will
compensate the complainant personally. These laws were not, however, applicable to judicial
officers (Mashaw, 1978).
Perhaps, the earliest case of civil liability was in 1961 when the Supreme Court in the
Monroe vs. Pape in which the police department of Chicago and the City were being accused of
searching the house of African-Americans without a warrant and afterwards detaining the father
illegally (McCoy, 2009). In the ruling, Supreme Court judges absolved the Chicago police



department, and the city of any wrongdoing and the police officers who conducted the search
were held responsible at their capacity. Traditionally, government institutions were immune to
suits in the United States because it was argued that holding those institutions accountable would
amount to wasting taxpayer's money.
In the 1978 Monel vs. Department of social services in which Monel, a teacher New York
was suing the municipality for forced leave. The case which began in 1971 was settled in 1978
when the Supreme Court took away the immunity the municipalities had enjoyed for a long time.
In that ruling, the Supreme Court judges interpreted the municipalities as pers...

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