Ending Qualified Immunity

Collapse
X
Collapse
First Prev Next Last
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Ending Qualified Immunity

    This would be a great step towards leveling the playing field and beginning the healing. Let's hope it gains traction.



    https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicksibilla/2020/06/03/new-bill-would-abolish-qualified-immunity-make-it-easier-to-sue-cops-who-violate-civil-rights/#6c54bfb86fbc

    In response to the George Floyd protests, the past few days have seen a surge of police violence, with unprovoked attacks on peaceful demonstrators, journalists, and even people just standing in their own homes. Incredibly, even though there’s clear video evidence for many of these incidents, holding police accountable for their actions is far from a slam dunk.

    A legal rule known as “qualified immunity” often shields police officers and other government officials from being sued by victims and their families, even if the officers violated their civil rights. And since prosecutors are loath to file criminal charges against government agents, suing rogue officers for damages in civil court is often the only recourse available to victims of government abuse.

    But late Sunday night, Congressman Justin Amash (L-MI) revealed that he will introduce the End Qualified Immunity Act, which would eliminate a “permanent procedural roadblock for plaintiffs” that thwarts them from “obtaining damages for having their rights violated.”

    “The brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police is merely the latest in a long line of incidents of egregious police misconduct,” Congressman Amash wrote in a letter to his colleagues posted on Twitter. “This pattern continues because police are legally, politically, and culturally insulated from consequences for violating the rights of the people whom they have sworn to serve. That must change so that these incidents of brutality stop happening.”

    Ever since Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1871, individuals have been able to sue state and local officers for infringing on their constitutional rights. But in 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government officials were entitled to qualified immunity from civil-rights lawsuits, if their actions didn’t violate “clearly established” rights.

    In other words, unless a court had previously ruled that an officer’s actions were unconstitutional, police would still be immune from a lawsuit, even if they violated someone’s rights. This “clearly established” requirement was crafted whole-cloth by the Supreme Court and appears nowhere in the actual text of the Civil Rights Act or in the federal law codified today, Section 1983.

    Unsurprisingly, this has helped foster a culture of impunity for law enforcement, with often absurd results. Just last year, qualified immunity was granted to Fresno officers accused of stealing more than $225,000 during a search, Idaho police who bombarded an innocent woman’s home with tear gas grenades, and a Georgia officer who tried to kill a family’s dog, but accidentally shot a 10-year-old boy instead, all on the grounds that the rights involved weren’t “clearly established.”

    “This rule has sharply narrowed the situations in which police can be held liable—even for truly heinous rights violations—and it creates a disincentive to bringing cases in the first place,” Congressman Amash noted in his letter. “If a plaintiff knows there is no prior case that is identical to theirs, they may decline to even file a lawsuit because they are very unlikely to win.”

    Ending qualified immunity, however, would “restore Americans’ ability to obtain relief when police officers violate their constitutionally secured rights,” he added. At the same time, it would also provide a powerful incentive for municipalities (who are generally responsible for paying out judgements and settlements) to restructure their law enforcement agencies and adopt policies and practices that curtail abuses of power. Those measures could include implementing de-escalation tactics and revising use-of-force standards, as well as firing and blacklisting rogue agents.

    Proponents of qualified immunity often claim that it’s vital to protect police officers forced to make split-second decisions in life or death struggles. But that justification only applies to a fraction of qualified immunity cases. Case in point: According to the Cato Institute, the Supreme Court is currently considering eight different cert petitions on qualified immunity. Yet the overwhelming majority of those cases did not involve any clear and present danger to police.

    Abolishing qualified immunity does not mean that anyone who files a civil rights lawsuit would automatically win their case against an officer. Instead, it would eliminate a barrier that arbitrarily prevents juries from hearing and deciding cases on their merits.

    The doctrine’s defenders also claim that its abolition would expose police officers to financial ruin, which in turn would disincentivize people from joining the force. But thanks to indemnification by state and local governments, individual officers rarely have to pay out of their own pocket. A 2014 study by UCLA Law Professor Joanna Schwartz found that officers were “financially responsible” for just “0.02% of the total dollars paid.”

    Moreover, eliminating qualified immunity would disincentivize people from abusing their authority as police officers. If being held accountable for violating the Constitution would dissuade someone from becoming a police officer, then they shouldn’t become a police officer.

    Fortunately, the injustice of qualified immunity is becoming clearly established in the court of public opinion. Earlier this year, the Institute for Justice formed the Project on Immunity and Accountability to challenge qualified immunity and other legal doctrines that make it “nearly impossible for ordinary Americans to hold the government accountable in court.”

    Over the weekend, The New York Timeseditorial board called on the Supreme Court to “ratchet back qualified immunity,” asserting that the doctrine “lets cops get away with murder.” On Monday, more than 400 civil rights organizations, including the Leadership Conference, the ACLU, Amnesty International USA, and the NAACP, sent a letter to congressional leadership urging that they enact a package of “meaningful police reform legislation” that includes “an end to qualified immunity doctrine.”

    “Qualified immunity was created by the Supreme Court in contravention of the text of the statute and the intent of Congress,” Congressman Amash wrote. “It is time for us to correct their mistake.”

    #2
    Seems like a reasonable change that could and should be made.

    The article quoted states a couple possible negative results of this change:
    -financial ruin for officers (clarified as not likely)
    -Disincentivize people from joining the force

    Neither of which see like too big of a negative to me... But, are there other stronger arguments to keep qualified immunity?

    Comment


      #3
      no one will ever join the force, especially in urban areas. hell they don't want to deal with the bull shit now.

      Comment


        #4
        good for amash, i'm glad when he left the R's he didn't jump to the D side and instead took a stand for L iberty


        Up is difficult, down is dangerous

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by gunracer1 View Post
          no one will ever join the force, especially in urban areas. hell they don't want to deal with the bull shit now.
          yep, and I can see a lot of "yeah, we're not going to respond to this call" type of action too. If you sued the police, don't ever expect them to respond to your call again.

          I don't envy the job of the Police, I think most of them are good, but imagine how much harder it would make their job if they have to stop and think about being sued everytime they break a door down.
          Last edited by dnsfailure; 06-04-2020, 03:18 PM.
          - Buck

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by dnsfailure View Post
            I don't envy the job of the Police, I think most of them are good, but imagine how much harder it would make their job if they have to stop and think about being sued everytime they break a door down.
            Shouldn't they? And isn't that the point?

            Kevin

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Ghetto Fab. View Post

              Shouldn't they? And isn't that the point?

              Kevin
              what I'm getting at, is that they will probably not respond to certain types of calls anymore. First they start getting sued for killing someone. Then eventually they get sued for property damage, or "emotional distress" then it gets down to petty shit like "they knocked over my trash cans". where would it stop? It's an interesting door to try and open.

              Would they ever get sued for NOT stopping someone from committing suicide?

              Again, I don't envy their position either way.
              Last edited by dnsfailure; 06-04-2020, 03:33 PM.
              - Buck

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by dnsfailure View Post

                what I'm getting at, is that they will probably not respond to certain types of calls anymore. FIrst they start getting sued for killing someone. Then eventually they get sued for property damage, or "emotional distress" then it gets down to petty shit like "they knocked over my trash cans". where would it stop?

                Again, I don't envy their position either way.
                But wouldn't it be better for them to be sued in a court of law that will investigate rather than being directly sentanced by the court of twitter based on half facts?

                Need to kill asset forfiture at the same time. I'm betting with that gone and they cant get fat stacks of cash on drug busts will make it the final straw in the end of the drug war that led to many of these militarization and excessive force standards.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by dnsfailure View Post

                  yep, and I can see a lot of "yeah, we're not going to respond to this call" type of action too.

                  I don't envy the job of the Police, I think most of them are good, but imagine how much harder it would make their job if they have to stop and think about being sued everytime they break a door down.
                  They could break a lot less doors down IMO

                  talk people out, or arrest them when they go out for cigarettes

                  could have avoided waco

                  Look up Jose Guerena Tucson AZ. Former Marine shot 20 times in his home, took him an hour to die, the swat team refused ems to enter the home until they cleared it for an hour.

                  His wife and child were in the house, they fired 70 rounds into his front door. They set off his car alarm, then kicked in his door waking him up mid day, a family member of his had been a victim of a violent home invasion prior to that, he came to the hallway with an AR on safety, a POS cop shot the door jam on the way in, and they all started firing. Then they lied about him firing hours weapon, and they lied about sounding sirens and announcing they were police.

                  the guy had a regular job, they could have arrested him a few hours earlier when he got off his graveyard shift and served a warrant at his home simultaneously.

                  they didn't find any drugs, or weed.

                  fuck the police.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by dnsfailure View Post

                    what I'm getting at, is that they will probably not respond to certain types of calls anymore. First they start getting sued for killing someone. Then eventually they get sued for property damage, or "emotional distress" then it gets down to petty shit like "they knocked over my trash cans". where would it stop? It's an interesting door to try and open.

                    Again, I don't envy their position either way.
                    I don't either and don't know what the solution is.

                    It seems like with even having Qualified Immunity, if you had an obvious misuse of power they could be sued or tried. We are seeing that currently.

                    Similarly, without Qualified Immunity, I would hope judges would throw out petty lawsuits.

                    Dunno.

                    Kevin

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Ghetto Fab. View Post

                      I don't either and don't know what the solution is.

                      It seems like with even having Qualified Immunity, if you had an obvious misuse of power they could be sued or tried. We are seeing that currently.

                      Similarly, without Qualified Immunity, I would hope judges would throw out petty lawsuits.

                      Dunno.

                      Kevin
                      it would still take up alot of time and resources to deal with all the lawsuits. Because I bet lots of people would be trying to do that, threaten lawsuits every time they see the police.

                      I don't know what would work better though.
                      - Buck

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I think it would cause officers to carry a personal liability insurance policy similar to what a lot of managers in the Fed world carry due to employee suits against them. Insurance companies always looking for another revenue stream.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by dnsfailure View Post

                          what I'm getting at, is that they will probably not respond to certain types of calls anymore. First they start getting sued for killing someone. Then eventually they get sued for property damage, or "emotional distress" then it gets down to petty shit like "they knocked over my trash cans". where would it stop? It's an interesting door to try and open.

                          Would they ever get sued for NOT stopping someone from committing suicide?

                          Again, I don't envy their position either way.
                          They would be on the same level as any other business dealing with lawsuits over everything. I support this. Maybe it would weed out the shitbags from the good guys and attract a more mindful officer instead.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Dethmachinefab View Post

                            They would be on the same level as any other business dealing with lawsuits over everything. I support this. Maybe it would weed out the shitbags from the good guys and attract a more mindful officer instead.
                            It probably would!
                            - Buck

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Chzbrgr View Post
                              I think it would cause officers to carry a personal liability insurance policy similar to what a lot of managers in the Fed world carry due to employee suits against them. Insurance companies always looking for another revenue stream.
                              Just like a doctor's malpractice suit or a professional engineer or architect. I've never bothered to look but do officers carry some sort of certification that can be stripped? or have some sort of continuing education requirements?

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X