The Sanders Firm, P.C.: SDP and State of Mind

At The Sanders Firm, P.C. in New York City we handle cases involving the violation of substantive due process (SDP). One aspect of SDP involves state of mind. The actors “state of mind” is analyzed when determining whether a person’s SDP rights was violated. State of mind is a complicated issue as is any SDP case, which means it is extremely helpful for an individual to utilize a civil rights lawyer.

SDP and State of Mind

The roots for state of mind in terms of SDP are found in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The amendment protects us against what is called “arbitrary action.” It has been determined that for an action to be arbitrary that it must “shock the conscience” (County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. —, 118 S. Ct. 1708, 1716 -1998). Whether or not SDP has been violated that would shock the conscience is dependent upon the type of SDP claim that is being made. In other words, SDP in relationship to an action and one’s state of mind is directly connected to the specific legal situation.

Examples of State of Mind

To illustrate SDP in relationship to a law enforcement officer’s state of mind we can look at two situations. In the first situation, if a police officer were in high-speed pursuit of an armed suspect driving a stolen vehicle recklessly throughout the public highways, this person is a danger to the public and therefore, if an officer uses physical force in this situation he or she would most likely not violate the suspect’s substantive due process rights. In our scenario, the officer uses his police vehicle to force the suspect’s vehicle off the road and it crashes into a pole injuring the suspect. The actions of the officer in relationship to his/her use of physical force would likely not “shock the conscience” as the officer’s state of mind seems to be working in concordance with how one would react in making split-second decisions in a potentially life threatening situation.

In the same scenario, these same law enforcement officers notice that the suspect is clearly in physical distress. The officer declines to call for medical assistance and instead questions the suspect regarding his crimes. It is clear that the suspect is in physical distress. As the suspect’s condition worsens, the officer still does not call for help and the officer continues his questioning, telling the suspect that he will call for help once the suspect confesses to his crimes.

In this second part of the same scenario, the officer’s decision not to call for medical assistance, their state of mind to continue questioning would likely “shock the conscience.” The suspect can file civil rights claims against the law enforcement officers for violating his SDP rights.

Protect Your Rights

For those in the New York City area who feel they have been the victim of a violation of SDP due to state of mind, there is help and hope from The Sanders Firm, P.C. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us. The Sanders Firm, P.C. is your voice for justice.