• The campaign against qualified immunity is steadily expanding

    Jay Schweikert | September 13, 2018

    You would be hard pressed to find an issue that unites a wider and more diverse set of allies than opposition to qualified immunity. Justices Thomas and Sotomayor (joined by Justice Ginsburg) have both criticized the doctrine, as have a growing chorus of diverse lower-court judges — including newly appointed Judge Don Willett, of the Fifth Circuit. And recall that the recent amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to reconsider the doctrine was quite possibly the most diverse brief ever filed with the Court (including,

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  • The Tenth Circuit’s cowardly refusal to decide whether 20 years in solitary violated prisoner’s constitutional rights

    Jay Schweikert | August 30, 2018

    Solitary confinement is one of the cruelest, most severe conditions that our criminal justice system may impose on prisoners. The combination of tiny cells (sealed to block all outside light and sound), lack of human interaction, and extremely limited access to the outside world add up to a treatment that is a mere stone’s throw from outright sensory deprivation torture. The long-term, injurious effects on prisoners for even short periods of such confinement, in terms of both physical and mental health,

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  • 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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