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Abstract

Volunteer anticrime groups are effective in deterring crime by exercising the statutory power to effect citizen's arrest. As a result of using this statutory authority though, the municipality may face liability, for example, where a volunteer anticrime group effected an unlawful arrest, or for use of excessive force against the arrested individual. This comment explores what a plaintiff must prove when he proceeds under various causes of action: an action under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, a state law, or a Bivens-type cause of action, in order to recover against a municipality for torts committed by anticrime volunteer groups. The Comment concludes that success in recovering against a municipal corporation may be limited to a state law tort claim by employing respondeat superior, or indicating the functional similarities between the volunteer anticrime group and the auxiliary police, in order to find municipal liability. The Supreme Court has rejected the notion of respondeat superior as a basis for municipal liability in section 1983 claims, and the courts have also hesitated in implying causes of action directly under the Constitution.

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