WBUR’s Tiziana Dearing did a really useful, timely, informative/baffling interview with former Federal Judge Nancy Gertner yesterday, regarding qualified immunity for police officers. I say “informative/baffling” because the more you know about it, the less apparent sense it makes. It was a “judge-created” idea that evolved from not requiring police officers to be constitutional lawyers into not holding police officers to any common sense standard at all for the protection of constitutional rights. Listen to the segment — it’s one of these things that sounds preposterous because it is:
But as we move forward to the MA House taking up police reform, there’s one point that Gertner makes that is very important, since it’s been misstated in the Senate debate: Even if held liable, police officers will not pay out of pocket for civil lawsuits. Those officers are indemnified by municipalities or by police unions in 99.8% of cases, according to Gertner, who looked it up. Start listening between 10:15 to 12:00 in the above clip.
In the Senate debate, someone claimed that they were getting calls from distraught officers’ wives that they will lose their homes after being sued. No, it doesn’t happen, and it still won’t.
Midnight #Massachusetts Senate Chambers: a Senator rose to support John Velis'(D-elected 5/19/20) 180day-vote-postponement amdmt “4further research” on “qualified immunity” 4public servants, to describe calls of crying officers’wives saying theyll lose their homes from being sued
— Andrea Doremus Cuetara (@AndreaDoremus) July 14, 2020
So as the House takes up this legislation, let’s leave this debunked talking point behind.