Tuesday, October 19, 2021

SCOTUS Upholds Qualified Immunity

 Qualified Immunity is a legal term that protects government officers when the are doing their job in accordance with established law.  Qualified immunity is especially important to police officers  who are often required to do things that might otherwise open them to monetary damages in the course of their employment.

Obviously I'm no lawyer.  I am a retired cop, and my definition above may not stand up to highly technical legal scrutiny, but it's close enough.  Sometimes cops are called to do things that the average citizen would not be called to do.  If they take an action that is legal under established law, and in accordance with their agency policy and training, then generally, thy can't be sued for taking that action.

Over the past several years, we have sen various actors and organizations trying to change the way that police officers do their jobs.  This is a valid process, and during my 37 year career as a police officer, I saw many changes in the way that policing was conducted.  Most of these changes were for the better. But, if an agency trains an officer to do a job, and that officer comports themselves within the limits prescribed by that training, th law should not hold him liable when something bad happens.

Yesterday, SCOTUS upheld qualified immunity in two separate cases

In two unsigned opinions Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of police officers seeking qualified immunity from allegations of excessive force.

In both cases, the justices overturned lower court decisions that went against the officers.

This was an unsigned decision, with no justice filing a dissenting opion, which tends to indicae that it is a unanimous decision.  That is good news for street cops, who these days are under great pressure from outside actors about the way they do their job.

This is a big win for street cops.


Old 1811 said...

I wonder how this will affect the Colorado law that did away with qualified immunity for police last year. I've read (but not confirmed) that NYC did the same thing to the NYPD.
We live in interesting times.

James said...

It is a big loss for the common citizens.

Old 1811 said...

I beg to differ, James. Watch the videos that are coming out of NYC. The NYPD coppers are standing around doing nothing, not even intervening in assaults that are happening in front of them, because without qualified immunity they stand to get sued into poverty by anyone they arrest. That' another unintended consequence that anyone could have foreseen. Be careful what you wish for.

James said...

Power corrupts, I could quote you 100 cases of egregious misuse of power by police agencies with no accountability because of qualified immunity.
Such as the toddler in Georgia burned because some idiot tossed a flash bang into his crib in a raid on the wrong house. Nothing happened to any officer involved. The police are a necessary evil, but they must be held accountable for what they do.

Retired Cop said...

What time does your shift begin? I'm certain that with your knowledge and moral base that you have volunteered to stand a watch to protect and better your community!
No? Well, if you don't feel the need to help with a situation you know so much about, how about you sit down and STFU!