High Speed Police Chase – Search and Seizure

Lesson Duration

Author:  Office of the U.S. Courts – Educational Resources

The media glamorizes high-speed police chases as dangerous but exciting. However, the case of Scott v. Harris asks where the responsibility lies in a chase that ends with 19-year-old Victor Harris becoming a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. Was the chase – and its outcome – a consequence of Harris breaking the law or did police use excessive force to end the chase? Did the police exceed the limits of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable seizure? Two lower courts disagreed on the key issue. The Supreme Court determined the final outcome. How would you decide?


  • Students will learn about the appellate court system.
  • Students will learn about the 4th Amendment Search and Seizure provisions.
  • Students will learn about the case of Scott v. Harris.
  • Students will deliberate on the basis of facts of the case.




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