Durham v. State, 199 Ind. 567 (1927)

Case Name: Durham v. State
Citation: 199 Ind. 567 (1927)

Facts: Durham, the defendant and a deputy game warren, tried to arrest Long for illegal fishing. Long resisted, tried to flee, and beat Durham with an oar to get away. Durham then shot Long. Durham was convicted of assault and battery.

State’s argument: To adopt a rule that a state official cannot use extreme force to capture a misdemeanant would render the state powerless and permit misdemeanants to “stay the power of the state by unlawful resistance.”

Defendant’s argument: An officer may use force that is reasonably necessary to accomplish the arrest of a misdemeanant but cannot kill or inflict great bodily harm just for the purpose of effecting the arrest.

Holding: The judgment is reversed with a new trial.

Reasoning: To not allow a state officer to use force in arresting, even a misdemeanant, will say to defendant’s, “You may measure strength with the arresting officer, and avoid being taken if you are the stronger.” In other words, the court does not want to elevate brute force to a position of command over the wheels of justice.

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