BB&K Police Bulletin: Taking Custody of Minor from School: Officers Entitled to Qualified Immunity from Claims of Unlawful Arrest and Use of Excessive Force

by Best Best & Krieger LLP
Contact

Overview: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that Sonora police officers were entitled to qualified immunity from claims alleging unlawful arrest and use of excessive force on an “out-of-control” juvenile. School officials had called police to assist with an unresponsive minor, 11, who had not taken his medication for ADHD. Concerned that he would run from the parking lot onto a busy roadway because the student had a history of running into traffic, police handcuffed the youth and took him into temporary custody. California Welfare & Institutions Code §625(a) authorizes officers to take minors into custody when they are “beyond the control” of their “parents, guardian, or custodian” as defined in Section 601(a). But no established law informed officers whether school officials qualified as “custodians” in this setting. Under these circumstances, a reasonable officer would not know that handcuffing an unstable “runner” and taking him into temporary custody was unlawful. Because there was no violation of a clearly-established right, the officers’ conduct was entitled to qualified immunity. This case illustrates an ambiguity in the Welfare & Institutions Code as to whether school officials are considered “custodians” under Section 601(a). The court specifically noted that California courts had not squarely addressed the issue. The court did not make a determination on its own, but simply found that the law was not clearly established, which means that the ambiguity remains.

Training Points: Based on this ruling, qualified immunity should still be available to officers who take custody of a minor from school officials under Sections 601(a) and 625(a). If contacted by school officials under similar circumstances, officers should document in detail all aspects of the encounter and take all reasonable steps in having a parent or guardian involved without delay. If the parent or guardian is not available, then the officer can transport the minor from the school. Until the legislature acts to resolve the ambiguity, or the California Supreme Court weighs in, law enforcement will have to be cautious in this area of juvenile enforcement.

Summary Analysis: In C.B. v. City of Sonora, C.B., 11, was having a “rough day” after not taking his ADHD medication before school. The disciplinarian for Sonora Elementary School told C.B. that she would call the police if he did not come in from the playground and return to class. C.B. had a history of “just taking off” and recently admitted that he wanted to “go out into traffic and kill himself.” Finding C.B. unresponsive, an officer put him in handcuffs and took him to his uncle’s workplace. C.B. claimed that police used excessive force and unlawfully arrested him in violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983. The court disagreed, finding that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity. At the time of C.B.’s arrest, the law was unclear as to whether school officials qualified as “custodians” under the statute authorizing officers to take custody of “out-of-control” minors. Thus, the officers did not violate the minor’s Fourth Amendment rights when they handcuffed C.B. and took him into temporary custody.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Best Best & Krieger LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Best Best & Krieger LLP
Contact
more
less

Best Best & Krieger LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.