Civil Liability in Criminal Justice Agencies

Course Number: CRIMLJUS 7520
Course Name: Civil Liability in Criminal Justice Agencies (Online)
Course Description:    This course examines the law of torts related to police, corrections, and other criminal justice agencies, including concepts of negligence, intent, duty of care, proximate cause, foreseeability, good faith defenses, and other legal doctrines.  Both state tort law and federal law (especially under 42 U.S.C. 1983) will be examined.  Major U.S. Supreme Court cases will be studied, as well as patterns and trends in federal and state lawsuits regarding civil rights violations and failure to exercise due care.  Liability of law enforcement officers, municipalities, correctional officers, corrections agencies and other criminal justice entities is reviewed.  Damages, injunctions and other remedies for civil wrongs are discussed, and differences between state and federal law and court processes are examined.
Prerequisites:    None
Level: Graduate
Credits: 3
Format: Online
Program: Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Registration Instructions

NOTE: The information below is representative of the course and is subject to change.  The specific details of the course will be available in the Desire2Learn course instance for the course in which a student registers.

Additional Information

Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course, you should be able to

  • Understand the issues of police officers' and other officials' intentional (tortious) acts and unintentional (negligent) acts that subject them and/or their agencies to actionable civil liability.
  • Articulate personal strategy to avoid acting in a tortious or negligent manner, thereby minimizing the potential of being sued personally or of having their agencies sued.
  • Have an increased sensitivity to the agency relationship a police officer and/or an official of the criminal justice system has with the Constitution.

Unit Descriptions
Course Organization and Assignment Descriptions

Unit 1
Upon completion of this unit, you should be able to

  • Differentiate unintentional malfeasance (negligence) from intentional malfeasance (tort) by police officers and other criminal justice officials.
  • Compare and contrast the issues of state and federal liability for intentional malfeasance (tort) by officers and other officials.
  • Distinguish and analyze the various sources of law and its purposes in this country for simultaneous protection of police and citizens' rights.
  • Appraise the development of civil liability for police and other officials in the United States criminal justice system.

Unit 2
Upon completion of this unit, you should be able to

  • Differentiate and evaluate how much force is not excessive, given the circumstances.
  • Distinguish and identify the control issues in a police-created emergency in high-risk operations as opposed to the citizens' emergency.
  • Compare and contrast the various parameters of excessive force.
  • Assess the various mechanisms to prevent excessiveness in the roles of police officers and other officials.

Unit 3
Upon completion of this unit, you should be able to

  • Appraise how lack of training can lead to tactical errors of police officers and other officials in the criminal justice system.
  • Assess whether the judicial rulings minimize negligent acts by police and other officials in the criminal justice system.
  • Compare and contrast the various strategies of officer training for minimizing errors in procedure.
  • Evaluate the various stages of liability from the individual officer's or official's culpability to the liability of the officer's or official's government agency.

Unit 4
Upon completion of this unit, you should be able to

  • Appraise the historical development of sovereign and personal immunity.
  • Assess the impact of personal immunity in protecting the high-quality officer and official in the performance of his or her job.
  • Distinguish and analyze the role of immunity in protecting citizens from the low-quality officer and official.
  • Evaluate the relationships of quality policing, personal immunity, sovereign immunity, and citizens' rights.

Grading Criteria for Activities

Assignment Possible Points
Briefs & Critiques (4 @ 100 pts. each) 400 points
Group Exercises (2) 100 points
Research Paper 100 points
Final Examination 100 points
Total: 700 points

Grading Scale

A Distinguished 90% - 100% 620 - 700 points
B Proficient 80% - 89% 540 - 619 points
C Limited 70% - 79% 460 - 539 points
D Unsatisfactory, but Pass 60% - 69%  


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