Authority of Law

Officials of the state can act under the authority of the law that would otherwise be considered a tort. For instance, an arrest can be seen as a tort, but with proper authority, it may be allowed. However, the authority is bound by the law. Unlawful arrests, whether without a warrant when one is needed, or an arrest by mistake can constitute a tort of false arrest. Officers must also avoid excessive force

Arrests can be made without a warrant when:

  1. Prevent an immediate felony or breach of peace.
  2. Is reasonable, has the right person, and has committed a crime.
  3. If the arrest is made in hot pursuit
  4. Crime is committed in their presence.


Parents have a right to discipline their child. However, the courts have been hesitant to put a scope on the discipline. Instead, they review the age, sex, and condition of the child; the nature and motive of the offense; etc. to determine if discipline was reasonable.

Teachers and other school officials can also discipline children, however, they are much more limited. Local jurisdictions often include what extent a teacher can discipline, but there are some circumstance that the court examines to determine the excessiveness of the actions.

  1. Nature of the punishment
  2. Conduct of the students
  3. Age and physical condition of the students
  4. The instructor’s motive

Corporal punishment does not violate the due process clause.


Sindle v. New York City Transit Authority

New York Court of Appeals, 1973. 33 N.Y.2d 293.

Defendant lost in trial court and appealed.


Can people be privileged to justification as a defense? That is, can their otherwise tortious actions be justified?


A person can find justification if

  1. Restraint or detention is reasonable under the circumstances in time and manner.
  2. Purpose was to prevent another from inflicting personal injury on another person or property in the lawful possession.


The person can find a defense for justification, therefore the judgement is reversed and remanded for new trial.


On the last day of the school year, the bus driver was taking home several children. They were quite rambunctious and caused damage to the vehicle. The plaintiff was not involved. However, the bus driver took the rest of the students to the police station. The plaintiff and his father sued for wrongful imprisonment


There are circumstances where a person can use justification as a defense. Here, the court considered (1) the need to protect the persons and property (2) the duty to aid the investigation on those who were inflicting the damage (3) the manner and place of the occurrence and (4) the feasibility and practicality of other alternative action. Because the actions under these considerations were reasonable, he can claim the privilege of justification.


The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.

Categories: 1L Fall, Torts

Will Laursen

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