Expanding Pathways to Accountability: State Legislative Options to Remove the Barrier of Qualified Immunity

Current Revsion Submitted: Tue, 02/06/2024 - 16:29
Submitted by Jane Clayton on Fri, 06/17/2022 - 16:51

In federal litigation, the judge-made doctrine of qualified immunity shields officers from liability in lawsuits alleging constitutional violations because courts often require a plaintiff to point to a factually identical prior case.While there are many police accountability mechanisms in need of change, ensuring officers at least face civil liability for misconduct is critical to any reform effort. Lawsuits alone cannot end problematic policing tactics, eliminate racial bias in law enforcement agencies, or bring peace to the grieving families who lost a loved one to police violence. However, they can deter future officer misconduct, empower Black and Brown communities by giving them recourse to vindicate their rights, and ensure victims of police abuse are not forced to bear the cost of their mistreatment.