California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)
3010. Violation of Prisoner's Federal Civil Rights (42 U.S.C. § 1983) - Eighth Amendment—Excessive Force
[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] used excessive force against [him/her]. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:
1. That [name of defendant] used force against [name of plaintiff];
2. That the force used was excessive;
3. That [name of defendant] was acting or purporting to act in the performance of [his/her] official duties;
4. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and
5. That [name of defendant]'s use of excessive force was a substantial factor in causing [name of plaintiff]'s harm.
Force is excessive if it is used maliciously and sadistically to cause harm. In deciding whether excessive force was used, you should consider, among other factors, the following:
(a) The need for the use of force;
(b) The relationship between the need and the amount of force that was used;
(c) The extent of injury inflicted;
(d) The extent of the threat to the safety of staff and inmates, as reasonably perceived by the responsible officials on the basis of the facts known to them; [and]
(e) Any efforts made to temper the severity of a forceful response; [and]
(f) [Insert other relevant factor.]
Force is not excessive if it is used in a good-faith effort to protect the safety of inmates, staff, or others, or to maintain or restore discipline.
Directions for Use
The "official duties" referred to in element 3 must be duties created pursuant to any state, county, or municipal law, ordinance, or regulation.
This aspect of color of law most likely will not be an issue for the jury, so it has been omitted to shorten the wording of element 3.
There is law suggesting that the jury should give deference to prison officials in the adoption and execution of policies and practices that in their judgment are needed to preserve discipline and to maintain internal security in a prison. This principle is covered in the final sentence by the term "good faith."
De minimis harm is insufficient to satisfy the fourth element. (Hudson v. McMillian (1992) 503 U.S. 1, 10-11 [112 S.Ct. 995, 117 L.Ed.2d 156], internal citations omitted.) If there is conflicting evidence on the issue of harm, the court may need to instruct the jury on the severity of the harm that must be proved.
Sources and Authority
42 U.S.C. section 1983 provides, in part: "Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law . . .."
"Section 1983 claims may be brought in either state or federal court." (Pitts v. County of Kern (1998) 17 Cal.4th 340, 348 [70 Cal.Rptr.2d 823, 949 P.2d 920].)
"The Constitution 'does not mandate comfortable prisons,' but neither does it permit inhumane ones, and it is now settled that 'the treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment.' In its prohibition of 'cruel and unusual punishments,' the Eighth Amendment places restraints on prison officials, who may not, for example, use excessive physical force against prisoners. The Amendment also imposes duties on these officials, who must provide humane conditions of confinement; prison officials must ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, and must 'take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.' " (Farmer v. Brennan (1994) 511 U.S. 825, 832 [114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811], internal citations omitted.)
"[A]pplication of the deliberate indifference standard is inappropriate when authorities use force to put down a prison disturbance. Instead, 'the question whether the measure taken inflicted unnecessary and wanton pain and suffering ultimately turns on "whether force was applied in a good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline or maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm." ' " (Hudson v. McMillian (1992) 503 U.S. 1, 6 [112 S.Ct. 995, 117 L.Ed.2d 156], internal citations omitted.)
"[W]e hold that whenever prison officials stand accused of using excessive physical force in violation of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, the core judicial inquiry is that set out in Whitley: whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm." (Hudson, supra, 503 U.S. at pp. 6-7, internal citations omitted.)
"Whether the prison disturbance is a riot or a lesser disruption, corrections officers must balance the need 'to maintain or restore discipline' through force against the risk of injury to inmates. Both situations may require prison officials to act quickly and decisively. Likewise, both implicate the principle that 'prison administrators . . . should be accorded wide-ranging deference in the adoption and execution of policies and practices that in their judgment are needed to preserve internal order and discipline and to maintain institutional security.' " (Hudson, supra, 503 U.S. at p. 6, internal citations omitted.)
" '[S]uch factors as the need for the application of force, the relationship between the need and the amount of force that was used, [and] the extent of injury inflicted,' are relevant to that ultimate determination. From such considerations inferences may be drawn as to whether the use of force could plausibly have been thought necessary, or instead evinced such wantonness with respect to the unjustified infliction of harm as is tantamount to a knowing willingness that it occur. But equally relevant are such factors as the extent of the threat to the safety of staff and inmates, as reasonably perceived by the responsible officials on the basis of the facts known to them, and any efforts made to temper the severity of a forceful response." (Whitley v. Albers (1986) 475 U.S. 312, 321 [106 S.Ct. 1078, 89 L.Ed.2d 251], internal citations omitted.)
"The Eighth Amendment's prohibition of 'cruel and unusual' punishment necessarily excludes from constitutional recognition de minimis uses of physical force, provided that the use of force is not of a sort 'repugnant to the conscience of mankind.' " (Hudson, supra, 503 U.S. at pp. 9-10, internal citations omitted.)
"The Supreme Court has interpreted the phrase 'under "color" of law' to mean 'under "pretense" of law.' A police officer's actions are under pretense of law only if they are 'in some way "related to the performance of his official duties.' " By contrast, an officer who is ' "pursuing his own goals and is not in any way subject to control by [his public employer],' " does not act under color of law, unless he 'purports or pretends' to do so. Officers who engage in confrontations for personal reasons unrelated to law enforcement, and do not 'purport or pretend' to be officers, do not act under color of law." (Huffman v. County of Los Angeles (9th Cir. 1998) 147 F.3d 1054, 1058, internal citations omitted.)
3 Civil Rights Actions, Ch. 10, Deprivation of Rights Under Color of State Law—Law Enforcement and Prosecution, ¶ 10.01 (Matthew Bender)
11 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 114, Civil Rights: Prisoners' Rights, § 114.70 (Matthew Bender)
3 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 35, Civil Rights (Matthew Bender)
(New September 2003)