David Randolph Smith

Civil Rights/§1983

In Wooten v. Logan, 2004 WL 68541 (6th Cir.(Tenn.)), (Jan 14, 2004) the Sixth Circuit held that a Pickett County sheriff's act of rape after a traffic stop did not support a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Civil Rights claim because there was no proof of an "official policy" in that the act of rape "did not establish or constitute a 'municipal policy." The court reasoned that the sheriff's conduct was not "designed to guide future decision making or in furtherance of some governmental body's high-level overall plan." Circuit Judge Karen Moore dissented on the ground that the sheriff-rapist was the policy-maker: "Logan's position as sheriff is his ability to create policy. Whether that policy allows the abuse only of his office, or of all law-enforcement offices, is irrelevant. It is not the greater power of the sheriff to force sexual acts from the citizenry that matters; it is the greater power of the sheriff to set the policy of the municipality to allow such reprehensible acts to happen under the color of state law that is at issue."