• The Basics of Qualified Immunity: The Four U’s

    Jonathan Blanks | July 6, 2018

    Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine invented out of whole cloth by the U.S. Supreme Court that protects government agents, including particularly law enforcement officers, who violate someone’s constitutional rights from federal civil liability. This website is dedicated to explaining how and why the qualified immunity doctrine needs to be eliminated.

    There are many technical aspects to the doctrine, which are discussed in more detail elsewhere on this site, but the general public needs to know these four basic facts.

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  • What Happened to PoliceMisconduct.net?

    Jonathan Blanks | July 1, 2018

    The National Police Misconduct Reporting Project (NPMRP) and PoliceMisconduct.net (PM.net) were the products of a non-governmental, non-partisan project by the Cato Institute. NPMRP attempted to determine the extent of police misconduct in the United States, identify trends affecting police misconduct, and report on issues about police misconduct in order to enhance public awareness on issues regarding police misconduct across the country.  NPMRP used media reports detailing both alleged and confirmed cases of police misconduct. All information gathered was manually validated to determine the credibility of the report,

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  • Openings in the Front in the Campaign Against Qualified Immunity

    Jay Schweikert | June 12, 2018

    I’ve blogged several times now about Cato’s ongoing campaign to challenge the doctrine of qualified immunity. This judge-made doctrine — invented out of whole cloth, at odds with the text of Section 1983, and unsupported by the common-law history against which that statute was passed — shields public officials from liability for unlawful misconduct, unless the plaintiff can show that the misconduct violated “clearly established law.” This standard is incredibly difficult for civil rights plaintiffs to overcome,

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  • Challenging Qualified Immunity for Prison Officials Who Kept a Man in Solitary for No Reason

    Jay Schweikert | May 29, 2018

    Our primary federal civil rights statute, colloquially called “Section 1983,” says that any state actor who violates someone’s constitutional rights may be sued in federal court. This remedy is crucial not just to secure relief for individuals whose rights are violated, but also to ensure accountability for government agents. Yet the Supreme Court has crippled the functioning of this statute through the judge-made doctrine of “qualified immunity.” This doctrine — at odds with both the text of the statute and the common law principles against which it was passed — immunizes public officials who commit illegal misconduct,

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  • “There Is Nothing Right or Just under the Law about This”

    Jonathan Blanks | April 2, 2018

    Qualified immunity is a doctrine that can shield police officers and other public officials from civil suits when they violate individual rights in the course of their official duties. According to the doctrine, courts are supposed to first determine whether an individual’s right was violated and then proceed to determine whether the violation was “clearly established” in the jurisdiction—that is, whether the circumstances had happened before. This can lead to perverse outcomes in which a court can find an officer violated someone’s rights,

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