How Reforming Qualified Immunity Could Transform Policing In America

For more than half a century, so-called qualified immunity has shielded police officers from lawsuits. Now, Congress and some state houses are considering changing that. We discuss how reforming qualified immunity could transform policing in America.


Joanna Schwartz, professor of Law at UCLA School of Law. (@JCSchwartzProf)

Rep. Leslie Herod, Colorado State Representative. Chair of the Colorado Black Democratic Legislative Caucus. (@leslieherod)

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Clark Neily, senior vice president for criminal justice at the Cato Institute. (@ConLawWarrior)

Major Brian Scott, of the Maine State Police.

From The Reading List

Los Angeles Times: “Congress sees momentum on police reform, but officer immunity still an obstacle” — “Although congressional negotiators remain optimistic about reaching agreement on a police reform bill in the coming weeks, many of the issues that divided Democrats and Republicans last summer when they first tried to pass policing reform after George Floyd’s murder remain sticking points.”

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Law360: “State Lawmakers Tackle Qualified Immunity Defense” — “The murder of George Floyd last summer by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin ignited a wave of state actions designed to reform policing and the ways governments hold law enforcement accountable. Legislatures across the U.S. passed bills addressing use of force, chokeholds and no-knock warrants.”

The Appeal: “Qualified Immunity: Explained” — “On the morning of Nov. 23, 2004, Malaika Brooks was driving her 11-year-old son to school when Seattle police pulled her over for speeding. When the officers gave her a ticket and asked her to sign it, Brooks refused, believing that she had been wrongly pulled over and thinking, mistakenly, that her signature would be an admission of guilt.”

Amsterdam News: “The invisible shield: how activists and lawmakers are breaking down qualified immunity, Part 3” — “Laws to eliminate qualified immunity as a defense were proposed almost as soon as the doctrine became a significant shield that protects law enforcement officers from being sued by those whose federal constitutional rights they violate.”

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