Shevrin Jones proposal would make it harder for police to claim ‘qualified immunity’

Sen.-elect Shevrin Jones says he’ll introduce a bill during the 2021 Session to gut the controversial “qualified immunity” doctrine for police officers.

Jones announced the push Monday as part of his 2021 Legislative Session agenda, which he dubbed the “People’s Agenda.”

The modern “qualified immunity” doctrine stems from a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court case.

The doctrine has been interpreted by many courts to say that police officers cannot be sued for violating a person’s rights unless a court has already ruled that behavior is unconstitutional.

Proponents of “qualified immunity” argue it serves as a needed protection for police. Officers need some guidance for what is and is not improper behavior. Therefore, backers would argue, it’s unfair to hold an officer liable without a prior precedent showing an action is unconstitutional.

But opponents have pointed out that doctrine has served as a significant roadblock to holding officers responsible for violating individuals’ rights in the decades since the U.S. Supreme Court established the concept.

Jones’ proposal would follow a law approved in Colorado in June. That bill asserts that any violation of a person’s rights under the state constitution could not be blocked outright by a “qualified immunity” defense. It’s unclear how

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