WASHINGTON, July 20, 2020 — A new ABA Legal Fact Check released today explores the legal and historical context of how state and local law enforcement officers gained broad legal immunity from civil suits during the past 40 years for actions performed on the job.
Nationally, the issue has flared in the wake of the May 25 homicide of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The current legal doctrine was created and expanded by the U.S. Supreme Court based on its interpretation of a post-Civil War statute. It gives police officers the legal right to pretrial dismissal of most civil suits arising out of their official conduct. For a plaintiff to prevail, he or she must show that conduct by an officer is materially similar to behavior that has been held to be unconstitutional by a prior court. Legislation to change the doctrine has been introduced in Congress.
ABA Legal Fact Check seeks to help the media and public find dependable answers and explanations to sometimes confusing legal questions and issues. The URL for the site is www.abalegalfactcheck.com.
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