A continuing problem of American criminal justice is the frequency of violence directed against minorities by police. One cause of this is the leniency of courts, especially the Supreme Court, toward police officers accused of using excessive force. This position paper reviews the legal decisions that have granted a large degree of immunity to police in their use of force. It describes three doctrines: Qualified immunity, in which a public official is shielded from a lawsuit unless his/her actions violated a “clearly established” constitutional right; summary judgment, a judicial decision based on paper evidence without testimony; and limitations on respondeat superior liability, by which a municipality is largely excused from the principle that an employer is responsible for the torts of employees. For each doctrine, its original intent is described, and the history of judicial decisions is reviewed that led to the unintended consequence of excusing excessive police use of force.
"The Courts Encourage It, So We Do It: Police Excessive Force Against
African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies: Vol. 13:
1, Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalscholarship.tsu.edu/ajcjs/vol13/iss1/9