In the aftermath of recent high-profile officer involved killings calls for police accountability have increased. Abolishing qualified immunity, a defense available to law enforcement officers sued for alleged civil rights violations, continues to be a point of contention among law makers debating the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021. Proponents argue that without the shield qualified immunity provides to police, public safety would suffer because officers might hesitate when situations require haste. Police making split second decisions under stressful conditions would be subjected to the risk of civil liability while discharging their duties were qualified immunity to end. Opponents of qualified immunity are concerned the doctrine frees police to use excessive force with impunity. Critics maintain the doctrine operates to deny alleged victims of police violence access to an effective judicial remedy.
The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law will host a virtual debate to consider the consequences of ending or amending the doctrine of qualified immunity. Is it possible to adjust policy levers to reduce police misconduct while protecting public safety, civil rights, and civil liberties?
CLE 1.5 (Pending)