IN THE NEWS: WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED QUALIFIED IMMUNITY?
“There’s no economic incentive for policy to change,”explain Cecil Bohanon and Nick Curott in a recent issue of the Indianapolis Business Journal, referring to qualified immunity, that policy that shields police officers from legal consequences of their actions. Eliminating qualified immunity would go a long way towards addressing the policy of police brutality, the authors assert.
At Ramey & Hailey, we strongly agree. The term “qualified immunity” refers to a court-created policy that prevents victims whose constitutional rights were violated from suing government officials or agents unless there has been a violation of “clearly established law”. In essence, plaintiffs must point to an already existing judicial decision with substantially similar facts.
Why on earth was such a policy established in the first place, you might ask? Nathaniel Sobel, writing in Lawfare.com, explains,
The Supreme Court:
- Wanted to avoid burdening society with the expenses of frequent litigation.
- Was concerned that the threat of litigation would deter police force candidates from signing up and from performing their duties.
Qualified immunity notwithstanding, when governments are responsible for accidents or injuries, they can be sued, we explained in previous Ramey & Hailey NewsBlogs. Two 2018 lawsuits our firm successfully filed serve as examples:
- Carl and Sonia Williams vs. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, City of Indianapolis, and Officer Christopher Mills
- Kevin and Dianne Brown (Kevin Brown and Beverly Dianne Brown vs. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, City of Indianapolis, and Officer Emily Perkins
Whether here in Indiana or around the globe, victims of brutality and their families can count on the attorneys at Ramey & Hailey to provide exceptional legal representation. And, when governments – or agents of governments – are responsible for accidents or injuries, they, too, can be sued. Even in cases where the actual wrong was inflicted by individual police officers, a city’s practices, customs, and policies, as well as its failure to train and supervise, can result in a deprivation of citizens’ rights.
Expect to hear more on this unfortunately all-too-timely topic. Know that our law firm is dedicated to reinforcing justice.