115 F.3d 1159 (4th Cir. 1997), 94-7120, Riley v. Dorton

Docket Nº:94-7120.
Citation:115 F.3d 1159
Party Name:Charles Richard RILEY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. James M. DORTON, Defendant-Appellee, South Carolina Sheriff's Association; J. Al Cannon, Sheriff of Charleston, South Carolina; Virginia Department of Corrections; Virginia Sheriffs Association; Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police; Virginia State Police Association, Amici Curiae.
Case Date:June 16, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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Page 1159

115 F.3d 1159 (4th Cir. 1997)

Charles Richard RILEY, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

James M. DORTON, Defendant-Appellee,

South Carolina Sheriff's Association; J. Al Cannon, Sheriff

of Charleston, South Carolina; Virginia Department of

Corrections; Virginia Sheriffs Association; Virginia

Association of Chiefs of Police; Virginia State Police

Association, Amici Curiae.

No. 94-7120.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

June 16, 1997

Argued Dec. 3, 1996.

Page 1160

ARGUED: Steven H. Goldblatt, Director, Appellate Litigation Clinical Program, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC, for Appellant. Joseph Paul Rapisarda, Jr., County Attorney, County of Henrico, Virginia, Richmond, VA, for Appellees. Sandra J. Senn, Stuckey & Senn, Charleston, SC, for amici curiae South Carolina Sheriff's Association and Cannon. ON BRIEF: Michelle J. Anderson, Supervising Attorney, Mary J. Clark, Supervising Attorney, Ellen R. Finn, Supervising Attorney, Joseph C. Brandt, Student Counsel, Ajay K. Gambhir, Student Counsel, Gregory C. Lisa, Student Counsel, Appellate Litigation Clinical Program, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC, for Appellant. James T. Moore, III, Assistant County Attorney, County of Henrico, Virginia, Richmond, VA, for Appellees. Stephanie P. McDonald, Stuckey & Senn, Charleston, SC, for amici curiae South Carolina Sheriff's Association, et al. James S. Gilmore, III, Attorney General, Mark R. Davis, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Lance B. Leggitt, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Richmond, VA, for amicus curiae Department of Corrections. Patrick A. O'Hare, Walter A. Marston, Jr., Hazel & Thomas, Richmond, VA, for amici curiae Virginia Sheriffs Association, et al.

Before WILKINSON, Chief Judge, and RUSSELL, WIDENER, HALL, MURNAGHAN, ERVIN, WILKINS, NIEMEYER, HAMILTON, LUTTIG, WILLIAMS, MICHAEL, and MOTZ, Circuit Judges, sitting en banc.

Affirmed by published opinion. Chief Judge WILKINSON wrote the majority opinion, in which Judges DONALD S. RUSSELL, WIDENER, WILKINS, NIEMEYER, HAMILTON, LUTTIG, and WILLIAMS joined. Judge HAMILTON wrote a concurring opinion. Judge MICHAEL wrote a dissenting opinion, in which Judges K.K. HALL, MURNAGHAN, ERVIN, and DIANA GRIBBON MOTZ joined.

OPINION

WILKINSON, Chief Judge:

Pretrial detainee Charles Riley sued Henrico County police detective James Dorton, alleging that the officer had used excessive force against Riley while he was at the police station awaiting booking. The district court granted Officer Dorton's motion for summary judgment based on its conclusion that any injuries Riley may have suffered were de minimis. We reject appellant's attempts to characterize this as an interrogation case. We hold that Riley's claims are properly analyzed under Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 60 L.Ed.2d 447 (1979), and the Fourteenth Amendment. We further hold that the purely de minimis level of injury alleged by this inveterate malcontent does not constitute the kind of excessive force amounting to punishment that Bell requires.

I.

At approximately 11:30 a.m. on March 31, 1993, detective Dorton arrested Riley on

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charges of rape, sodomy, and abduction for immoral purposes, pursuant to outstanding warrants. Riley was handcuffed and taken to the Norfolk Police Department. He was then released into the custody of detective Dorton and another officer, detective Ross, who transported Riley to Henrico County.

Upon his arrival at the Public Safety Building in Henrico County at 1:30 p.m., Riley's handcuffs were removed briefly to permit him to sign a waiver for DNA samples to be taken without a search warrant. Riley refused to sign the waiver, so detective Dorton replaced the handcuffs and told Riley he would stay handcuffed until Dorton got a search warrant. Riley alleges that Dorton also insulted Riley and his family, both in the car and at the Public Safety Building. According to Riley, Dorton called Riley's family "a bunch of dumb country hicks" and threatened to tie Riley to a tree and leave him. When Dorton asked Riley at the Public Safety Building if he knew "what scum looked like," Riley responded by asking whether Dorton had "looked in the mirror lately."

The events that transpired in the next 30 seconds form the basis for Riley's claim. Riley alleges that Dorton became angry at Riley's insult, came over from the desk where he had been filling out papers, and inserted the tip of his pen a quarter of an inch into Riley's nose, threatening to rip it open. Riley claims that Dorton also threatened to throw him into a corner and beat him, and that Dorton slapped him across the face with "medium" force, scraping Riley's face with his fingernails.

Riley's handcuffs were again removed at approximately 3:30 p.m. so that Riley could eat a hamburger Dorton had bought for him. Shortly after he ate, Riley was transported to a hospital where DNA samples were taken pursuant to the search warrant which Dorton had obtained. Riley's cuffs were removed at the hospital, and again later during booking at the Public Safety Building. Riley concedes that the handcuffing was not continuous, that the handcuffs were not too tight, that he was properly cuffed behind his back according to state procedure, and that the discomfort he suffered from the handcuffs disappeared each time they were removed.

There is no medical evidence that Dorton ever inflicted any injury on Riley. Riley saw medical personnel approximately sixty times during the fifteen months following his arrest, complaining about virtually every conceivable physical ailment, but he never once complained to medical staff that he had been injured by the handcuffs, pen, or slap. Records from dozens of mental health sessions reflect no mention of the incident. Nonetheless, Riley filed a section 1983 action against detective Dorton, alleging excessive force in connection with the handcuffs, pen, slap, and threats. The district court granted summary judgment for Dorton on the grounds that Riley had at most suffered only de minimis injury. A divided panel of this court reversed and remanded for trial. Riley v. Dorton, 93 F.3d 113 (4th Cir.1996). We agreed to hear the case en banc, and we now affirm the district court.

II.

The Supreme Court has instructed us that "[i]n addressing an excessive force claim brought under § 1983, analysis begins by identifying the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed by the challenged application of force." Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394, 109 S.Ct. 1865, 1870, 104 L.Ed.2d 443 (1989). We must therefore first determine whether Riley's claims are governed by the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, or Fourteenth Amendment.

A.

The Fourth Amendment governs claims of excessive force during the course of an arrest, investigatory stop, or other "seizure" of a person. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. at 388, 109 S.Ct. at 1867-68. The events about which Riley complains, however, took place at least two hours and ninety miles from the time and place of Riley's arrest. Furthermore, as Riley concedes, Dorton arrested him pursuant to a valid warrant. "[A]s one lawfully arrested and being held prior to a formal adjudication of guilt," Riley is adjudged in our circuit to be a pretrial detainee. United States v. Cobb, 905

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F.2d 784, 788 (4th Cir.1990); see also Cooper v. Dyke, 814 F.2d 941, 948 (4th Cir.1987).

Riley urges this court to broaden Fourth Amendment protection beyond the point of arrest to cover all persons in pretrial detention. The Supreme Court, however, has declined to adopt Riley's position, having reserved the question in Graham v. Connor:

Our cases have not resolved the question whether the Fourth Amendment continues to provide individuals with protection against the deliberate use of excessive physical force beyond the point at which arrest ends and pretrial detention begins, and we do not attempt to answer that question today. It is clear, however, that the Due Process Clause protects a pretrial detainee from the use of excessive force that amounts to punishment.

Id. at 395 n. 10, 109 S.Ct. at 1871 n. 10.

Riley argues that more recent Supreme Court precedent, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 114 S.Ct. 807, 127 L.Ed.2d 114 (1994), "all but commands" us to apply the Fourth Amendment to Riley's pretrial detention. Riley's reliance on Albright, however, is misplaced. The Court in Albright was addressing not a claim of excessive force after arrest, but rather a claim that the police lacked probable cause to initiate a criminal prosecution against Kevin Albright. In deciding that Albright's case should have been brought under the Fourth Amendment rather than the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth, a plurality of the Court noted that "[t]he Framers considered the matter of pretrial deprivations of liberty, and drafted the Fourth Amendment to address it." Id. at 274, 114 S.Ct. at 813.

Applying the Fourth Amendment to deprivations of liberty, however, is not a new or remarkable proposition. The Court had previously stated in Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 95 S.Ct. 854, 43 L.Ed.2d 54 (1975), that the Fourth Amendment was the constitutional provision to use when evaluating questions of probable cause for arrest and detention. A deprivation of liberty, however, is not the same thing as a condition of detention. For "evaluating the constitutionality of conditions or restrictions of pretrial detention," the Supreme Court has specifically directed that the "proper inquiry" is "whether those conditions or restrictions amount to punishment of the detainee" under the Due Process Clause. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. at 535, 99 S.Ct. at 1871-72. As in Bell, "[w]e are not concerned with the initial decision to detain an...

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