Petitioners are seeking an adjustment to the current standards federal courts use to assess civil claims for civil rights violations. Under Section 1983, courts analyze excessive force claims arising out of arrests, stops, and other seizures of individuals at liberty under the Fourth Amendment. To overcome qualified immunity on an excessive force claim, plaintiffs must identify prior cases with nearly identical facts concerning the nature of the interaction before force was used, the magnitude of force used, and the degree of danger or resistance posed by the individual who was the target of the force used.
Lawsuits brought under Section 1983 with clear facts and meritorious claims are often dismissed due to qualified immunity or the burdensome objective reasonableness standard. There is no justification for the doctrine of qualified immunity in common law, historical precedent, or public interest, and the Fourth Amendment’s objective reasonableness standard creates a heavy burden for plaintiffs to carry to prove excessive force. Instead, qualified immunity and difficult evidentiary standards allow law enforcement agencies and municipalities to continue “promulgating a system of impunity,” as Petitioners state.
This brief outlines NPAP's support of the Petitioners’ request that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) instruct the United States to amend Section 1983.