In light of our conclusion that there was a break in the chain between Officer Weller's alleged conduct and the denial of Wray's constitutional rights, Wray's claim regarding the City's failure to train or supervise its police officers likewise fails for lack of causation. Officer Weller's conduct was not itself the cause of the constitutional deprivation; the City's alleged failure to train him adequately—a step even further removed - cannot, therefore, be the "actual cause" of the constitutional deprivation.
I’m not the only one not comforted by the Wray opinion. Just this month in Police Chief Magazine, Jack Collins, General Counsel for the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association warned that the recent, highly publicized DNA exonerations may have changed the landscape for failure to train claims. (Web link below.)
That author also opines that all the publicity surrounding eyewitness misidentification and unreliable lineups in the exoneration cases arguably put departments on constructive notice of due process violations satisfying the deliberate indifference requirement.
Judges are lawyers and you can’t get two lawyers to agree to kill a rat in a bathtub. I wouldn’t count on other courts agreeing that obviously unreliable police lineups don’t violate a suspect’s due process rights.
But, the most important reason to train officers on research-supported, best lineup practices is not to avoid a civil lawsuit. It’s to reduce wrongful arrests, prosecutions and convictions.
- Liability Under Section 1983
- Monroe v. Pape
- Monell v. Dept. of Social Services of the City of New York
- City of Canton v. Harris
- Failure to Train as a Theory of Section 1983 Liability
- Wray v. City of New York, et. al.
- DNA Exoneration Cases May Breed “Failure to Train” Claims
About The Author:
Described by Calibre Press as "the indisputable master of enter-train-ment," Val Van Brocklin is an internationally sought speaker, trainer and noted author. She combines a dynamic presentation style with over 10 years experience as a prosecutor where her trial work received national media attention on ABC's Primetime Live, the Discovery Channel's Justice Files, in USA Today, The National Enquirer and REDBOOK. In addition to her personal appearances, she appears on television, radio, and webcasts, in newspapers, journal articles and books. Visit her website: www.valvanbrocklin.com