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October 2, 2014

The Supreme Court Curtails the Ability to Hold Bad Cops Accountable

Erwin Chemerinsky, writing in The New York Times, notes that the Supreme Court has a history of “protecting bad cops.”

“In recent years, the court has made it very difficult, and often impossible, to hold police officers and the governments that employ them accountable for civil rights violations. This undermines the ability to deter illegal police behavior and leaves victims without compensation. When the police kill or injure innocent people, the victims rarely have recourse.”

“Because it is so difficult to sue government entities, most victims’ only recourse is to sue the officers involved. But here, too, the Supreme Court has created often insurmountable obstacles. The court has held that all government officials sued for monetary damages can raise ‘immunity’ as a defense. Police officers and other law enforcement personnel who commit perjury have absolute immunity and cannot be sued for money, even when it results in the imprisonment of an innocent person.”

“When there is not absolute immunity, police officers are still protected by ‘qualified immunity’ when sued for monetary damages.”

“Taken together, these rulings have a powerful effect. They mean that the officer who shot Michael Brown and the City of Ferguson will most likely never be held accountable in court.”

  • Lorehead

    What rational reason is there to immunize police for perjury? Or prosecutors for misconduct leading to a false conviction? Every incentive we give them is to convict someone by any means necessary, guilty or not.

  • Carroll Barber

    I don’t see a problem here. I don’t want the cities or the officers money; I’ll settle for the life of the officer and his families. Done! :)

  • http://About.me/TCDavisJr TCDJr

    The public is deterred from committing crime through marketing efforts as well as the law itself, while the police are obviously and openly incentivized to commit crime with TV shows praising them and their actions, legal or not and when illegal they are only so because the courts aren’t dealing with the criminals, letting them go to commit more crime.
    Indeed, through the eyes of TV and the movies, the police are misunderstood sentinels of justice. The public is an unseen populace that live good lives but are never seen while those we do see fit the script perfectly, suspicious, acting strange and surely up to no good. Even the family units wandering the set could be sleeper units of whatever plot is afoot.
    While media keep casting the police in such roles both on camera and in real life, we can expect more of the same and we’ll deserve it for being sheep under the rule of the benevolent gangs we call police.

  • EB

    This article is flawed in so many ways and its incorrect information appears to be intentional in nature. Officers can not only be sued they can be criminally charged especially in cases of perjury.. the problem is just because the defense attorney accuses the officer of perjury does not mean that what happened.. you may not like what the cop is saying, but that doesnt make it a lie. It is clear from the ending of this article that the author is anti-police, as why would the Ferguson police or the officer be sued, as the investigation has not even concluded yet, however, since you can write the article, you can ignore the fact that it has not been proven that the officer acted inapproprietly… and your statement that it is difficult to sue a governmental entity is a falsehood it is actually very easy and it has become an industry in and of itself. Oh and also, immunities such as qualified immunities are not an absolute they are ruled upon by judges. Your article and quotes are irresponsible and unproductive. Your side of the story can only be credible if you tell the truth. If you just want to stir the pot…carry on.

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