Vanderbilt Law Review

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On February 2, 1958, Milwaukee city police officer Thomas Grady shot and killed 23-year-old Daniel Bell. Officer Grady immediately attempted to cover up the incident, enlisting the help of a fellow officer to place a knife in Daniel's hand and concoct a fictional account of the event. It was only years later, in 1978, that an investigation revealed the true circumstances of Mr. Bell's death. A year after this discovery, the estate of Daniel's father, Dolphus Bell, instituted an action under 42 U.S.C. ? 1983 alleging that the shooting was unconstitutionally, racially motivated, and the death of Daniel Bell deprived him of his constitutionally protected liberty interest in the companionship of his child.

Dolphus Bell's suit raises two important constitutional issues. First, does the Constitution protect Dolphus Bell's relationship with his adult son from undue state interference? Second, assuming such a relationship is protected, did the police officers' conduct violate Dolphus Bell's constitutional rights even though their conduct was directed at his son? The Courts of Appeals have grappled with both questions and have reached divergent results. This Note addresses the circuit split with regard to the first issue: whether a parent has a constitutionally protected interest in the companionship of her adult child.

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