The Taylor v. Riojas and Ulrich v. Pope County Cases

A comparative analysis of the two cases Taylor v. Riojas and Ulrich v. Pope County

The main similarity evidenced in Taylor v. Riojas and Ulrich v. Pope County is that in both cases, the plaintiffs alleged a violation of their constitutional rights. Ulrich, on his part, claimed that he did not have any contact with Mohs or Ronning and invited the police to sit behind him and watch him leave after the ceremony. Just like the police declined Ulrich’s offer, they too refused to take Taylor to the bathroom.

In line with the above, the main difference between the two cases lies in the reasons cited for the violation of constitutional rights. In Taylor v. Riojas, the plaintiff had alleged facts sufficient to show constitutional violation when the correctional officer declined to take him to the bathroom. However, this right was not granted – the plaintiff had no choice but to sleep in their waste. On the contrary, the officers did not violate Ulrich’s constitutional rights when they arrested him because there was an established precedent – he violated the restraining order which is a misdemeanor under Minnesota law.

It is important to note that the verdict in these two cases was different. The judgment was based on how well the plaintiffs’ demonstrated the officers’ decision to arrest them violated their rights as per the U.S constitution. Similarly, they needed to show that these rights were well-established by the time they were being arrested. In rendering the judgment in Taylor v. Riojas, the court relied on the following arguments. Firstly, the plaintiff alleged that in September 2013, the correctional officers violated his constitutional rights by keeping him in two separate cells for six days. He described the first cell as unsanitary and dangerous – it was covered by “massive amounts’ of feces”. Secondly, he alleged that the officers declined to take him to the bathroom. The last argument that was used to render the verdict was that the correctional officers confined him in an unconstitutional condition in violation of his Eighth Amendment Rights.

The arguments that drove the verdict in Ulrich v. Pope County included the following. Firstly, Ulrich filed a lawsuit against Mitchell and Thessing both in their individual and official capacities alleging that they arrested him without probable cause, a violation of the Fourth Amendment (“Ulrich v. Pope County, 715 F.3d 1054, 2013”). Secondly, he alleged that the officers prevented him from attending the school which violated his First Amendment rights. Thirdly, as for Pop County, Ulrich claimed that they failed to adequately train the deputies. Finally, he asserted a claim on all the defendants for false imprisonment under Minnesota law.

A closer look at the arguments in the Taylor v. Riojas case, it is clear that there was no prior precedent. There was no evidence to show that the conditions in the plaintiff’s confidence were necessary or could not be changed. Under the obviousness standard, the police were unwilling to help Taylor relieve himself (Crocker, 2021). In Ulrich v. Pope County, there was probable cause for arrest – the plaintiff knowingly violated a valid restraining order.

The Similarities and Differences Between the Elijah McClain case and Taylor v. Riojas and Ulrich v. Pope County

Elijah McClain case and Taylor v. Riojas and Ulrich v. Pope County have a few differences. First, in the case of Taylor v. Riojas, the court reversed the Appeals Court decision and remanded it for additional review based on the obviousness standard (“The Supreme Court 2020 Term”). In the Riojas and Ulrich, there was a probable cause for arrest – there was an order in place and the plaintiff was identified in the order but refused to leave when asked. However, there was no legal justification for stopping McClain based on the 911 call and there was no constitutional basis to search him. The overriding similarity in Ulrich v. Pope County and McClain case revolves around the fact that they both did not comply with the order. On one hand, McClain did not conform to the officers’ demands. On the other hand, Ulrich refused to leave the graduation.

The verdict in the previous cases revolved around the ability of the plaintiff to demonstrate that the officer’s actions violated an established constitutional right as demonstrated in Ulrich v. Pope County. Therefore, several arguments may redact from the qualified claim. Firstly, McClain was “wearing headphones and a ski mask over his face because of a chronic health condition and did not stop when police called to him” (Boyd et al., 2020, p. 13). Secondly, the officers did not have legal jurisdiction to stop McClain based on the 911 call. Similarly, they lacked a constitutional right to search him, pinning him to the ground and restraining him. Lastly, Fire Department paramedics failed to evaluate McClain when they arrived on the scene – they relied on the police assessment that McClain was suffering from a syndrome called excited delirium.

The arguments that were used revolved around understanding the manner of death. Firstly, the manner of death may be an accident if it was an idiosyncratic drug reaction or natural if the victim had an undiagnosed mental illness. Secondly, it may be homicide if the officers’ actions led to the eventual death. Therefore, the court relied on the argument that it was difficult to determine the manner of death. Another argument relates to the reasonable belief standard – the prosecution needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer’s actions were criminal and not supported by Colorado law. However, I think the arguments are a textbook version of the law because there is no neutrality in the facts. I believe there was sufficient evidence to establish probable cause – he was subdued by police and injected with a sedative without consent.

Care for the Arrestee’s Health in the Incident

There are various incidents that require police to have a duty of care. However, in the case of McClain, the police did not meet their responsibility because they failed to take the necessary steps to guarantee the person’s safety. For instance, they did not have any measures in place to mitigate the risks that resulted from the injection of the sedative. Similarly, the emergency medical technicians (EMTs) did not have consent to provide. The team relied on the police assessment that McClain was suffering from a syndrome called excited delirium. Consent is required to establish physical contact with patients before treating them (Boyd et al., 2020). Most importantly, the officer who is the first responder to the crime has the responsibility for the safety and security of the arrestee. Therefore, the three Aurora police officers who made contact with McClain were responsible for his safety –they were required to preserve, protect and collect evidence when necessary.

Furthermore, there are other legal standards that are similar to the McClain case. These standards include the duty to use non-violent means whenever possible, the duty to use force for a legitimate law, and the duty to use minimum necessary force with reference to the circumstance (McEvoy, 2021). However, these standards may hurt the defendants in a civil case. For instance, the officers may opt to use force by alleging that the non-violent means have proven ineffective or failed to achieve the intended outcome. Therefore, police may resort to using firearms by claiming that all non-violent means such as their presence, uniform, and vehicle failed. In fact, the standard allows the official to employ force only to the extent needed to perform their duty.

Lastly, if a civil case is brought against these police officers and EMTs, they would most likely not qualify for immunity under current laws. McClain is protected by the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable seizure and detention. In fact, McCain was a victim of invasion of privacy to have a fair claim under Fourth Amendment. Although the police might allege, they had probable cause based on the 911 call, the technique used ended up hurting them. They used techniques such as carotid hold and tackled him to the ground. They also acted very quickly in taking him into custody. More importantly, the civil case will hold because the EMTs and paramedics did not have the authority to administer medication without consent. This is because it is unlawful to touch anyone without consent, regardless of the profession.

The police, on their part, might allege that they acted under the color of law and in good faith. For instance, the police might claim that law allows them to not only act within their lawful authority but also permitted to go beyond their required law and require fair notice (McEvoy, 2021). Therefore, by holding McClain on the ground and administering the sedative, they were within their scope of work as per the law. Similarly, they might assert good faith because they were only responding to a 911 call. However, these arguments are not strong enough to warrant their immunity. This is because there was no probable cause to support the arrest and administer the sedative.


The Supreme Court 2020 term: Leading case: II. Federal jurisdictionand procedure: Qualified immunity — Obviousness Standard – Taylorv. Riojas, 135 Harv. L. Rev. 421.

Boyd, R. W., Lindo, E. G., Weeks, L. D., & McLemore, M. R. (2020). On racism: A new standard for publishing on racial health inequities. Health Affairs Blog, 10(4), 13-77. Web.

Crocker, K. M. (2021). The Supreme Court’s reticent qualified immunity retreat. Duke LJ Online, 71(3), 23-44. Web.

McEvoy, J. (2021). “Supreme court backs qualified immunity for police officers, allowing cops greater protection from lawsuits”. Forbes. Web.

Ulrich v. Pope County, 715 F.3d 1054 (2013). Ulrich v. Pope County in the Affirmative. Web.

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LawBirdie. (2023, September 2). The Taylor v. Riojas and Ulrich v. Pope County Cases. Retrieved from


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Work Cited

"The Taylor v. Riojas and Ulrich v. Pope County Cases." LawBirdie, 2 Sept. 2023,


LawBirdie. (2023) 'The Taylor v. Riojas and Ulrich v. Pope County Cases'. 2 September.


LawBirdie. 2023. "The Taylor v. Riojas and Ulrich v. Pope County Cases." September 2, 2023.

1. LawBirdie. "The Taylor v. Riojas and Ulrich v. Pope County Cases." September 2, 2023.


LawBirdie. "The Taylor v. Riojas and Ulrich v. Pope County Cases." September 2, 2023.