By Matt Reynolds
August 4, 2020, 4:53 pm CDT
Protests like this one, the Black Clergy United March for Justice on June 13 in Tampa, Florida, prompted a number of resolutions before the House of Delegates at the ABA Annual Meeting. Photo from Shutterstock.com.
The ABA House of Delegates responded forcefully to calls for police reform at this year's annual meeting, passing resolutions calling for a curtailing of the qualified immunity doctrine blocking civil lawsuits and for heightened oversight of law enforcement through a national use-of-force database.
The House adopted Resolution 301A on qualified immunity with the backing of a vast majority of delegates at Tuesdays session. The legal doctrine has become a focal point for backers of police reform who see it as an obstacle to accountability for police misconduct.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take on eight cases related to qualified immunity. Critics would like the court to review the doctrine, which they say shields officers accused of using excessive force or unlawful searches.
Absent a ruling from the Supreme Court, a report accompanying the resolution says legislatures should now review the doctrine to decide whether to curtail it.
Paul Wolfson of the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice argued that without ending or limiting the doctrine, people who are victims of police misconduct would have no avenue for relief.
In recent months, weve all been vividly reminded of the need to deter and remedy unconstitutional conduct by law enforcement officers, Wolfson said. Our fundamental constitutional rights will be meaningless unless those who are injured have a forceful remedy.
On Monday the House adopted Resolution 116A, which encourages the collection of records and data on use of deadly force, another flashpoint in the national debate over police brutality and racial injustice.
The passing of the resolution comes after both Republicans and Democrats have called for greater oversight of police officers through federal data collection.
Robert Harris, director of the Los Angeles Police Protective Leaguethe union representing the Los Angeles Police Departmentsays a national registry is a step in the right direction but said that the ABAs resolution on qualified immunity misses the mark.
If the goal is to hold officers accountable, theres a better way to do that, Harris said in an interview.
Harris said that people filing lawsuits over police misconduct may still win damages, despite the legal doctrine. His union supports stronger use of force policies and officer training, as well as technology that flags and weeds out problem officers, he said.
On Tuesday, the House also passed and adopted Resolution 10I encouraging the creation of legislation outlawing lynching.
A federal law to criminalize lynching, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, has stalled in Congress, California Lawyers Association president Emilio Varanini said. Attorney Laura Farber said that it was time for the ABA to take a stand as she urged delegates to pass the resolution.
Im also disheartened, sad and frankly a little disgusted to know that here in 2020 we have not yet, and Congress has not yet passed legislation making lynching a hate crimea federal crime, Farber said.
Resolution 301C, also adopted Tuesday, asks the government to desist from using force to suppress lawful First Amendment activity. That comes after President Donald Trump sent federal officers to Portland, Oregon, who fired tear gas and stun grenades at demonstrators and hauled some protesters into unmarked vehicles.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum spoke in favor of the resolution. She said that in some cases, protesters had been grabbed off the street as they were leaving demonstrations. Federal officials had assaulted peaceful protesters, including the Wall of Moms activist group, she said.
The federal governments actions in Portland served as a direct assault on the right to organize, to assemble, to march and to protest, Rosenblum said. I sincerely hope never again to see these infringements upon peoples First and Fourth amendment rights in my city or any other.
On Tuesday, the House also passed Resolution 301B to make Juneteenth a paid legal holiday. Black Americans have long celebrated June 19 to the mark the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned they had been freed. Support for a national federal holiday has gained steam since the death of George Floyd while in police custody in May.
Delegate Deborah Enix-Ross said she could think of no better way for the ABA to show support for a more just society and an understanding of our nations history.
I know there are some who may have concerns about the economic impact of another federal holiday. But I would hope that we will never again equate the evils of slavery with economics. There is simply no price on doing what is right, Enix-Ross said.
ABA president-elect Reginald Turner voiced his support for the resolution and said slavery was the nations original sin.
Juneteenth is an appropriate commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. It should be a national holiday, to be celebrated by all, Turner said.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the ABAs annual meeting was held online for the first time in its history. Against the backdrop of recent protests, the meeting became a forum for how the legal community can address police brutality and racial injustice.
In her final speech before she handed the gavel to incoming ABA President Patricia Lee Refo, Judy Perry Martinez urged lawyers to root out racism.
Let none of us say the job is too big or the problems of racism run too deep, Martinez said. This is our torch to carry. Lawyers have a special responsibility to fight injustice, especially injustice caused by laws and practices that are racist and unjust in word or effect.
At a the ABA forum Justice and PolicingA Path Forward, on Friday, Martinez asked Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., about his thoughts on police defunding and qualified immunity.
ABA President Judy Perry Martinez interviews Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.
The senator said he was no stranger to discrimination. He said that in the last 20 years, he has been stopped by state or local police officers 18 times, including seven times while he was in office. Scott said that underlines the importance of voting in local elections.
Those are the folks directly in positions of power to determine the type of local law enforcement you have, Scott said. When we dont vote in those elections, we are actually taking a step back from the one place where police reform comes to life immediately.
Scott, the GOPs only African American senator, led a Republican bill on police reform that would require departments to use body cameras and limit the use of chokeholds. However, the bill would not loosen the qualified immunity doctrine. Scott bristled against the notion of defunding police departments. He said he instead supports a strategy of providing police units with mental health experts to help prevent incidents from escalating.
The concept of defunding the police is the scariest thought Ive ever heard as it relates to communities of color and the vulnerable communities, Scott told Martinez.
The report that accompanies Resolution 301A says qualified immunity makes it virtually impossible for people who have suffered violence at the polices hands to obtain redress through civil court actions. The law also means that individual officers are rarely held to account for their actions, the report adds.
Without an effective civil remedy, serious abuses of governmental power will persist unchecked, many motivated by racial discrimination. That is not acceptable in the United States in the 21st century, the report states.
Several states have moved forward on overhauling the definition of qualified immunity. Colorado passed a law in June that would make it easier for people injured by the police to override a qualified immunity defense and claim up to $25,000 in damages, Forbes reports. Massachusetts legislators are proposing police reforms that would curtail qualified immunity.
Resolution 116A encourages governments to collect accurate records and data on deadly force incidents. The resolution encourages the creation of laws that would mandate an independent investigation if someone is killed during an encounter with law enforcement or in custody.
The resolution also calls for a national database that would record disciplinary actions against officers and complaints of excessive force. That could prevent officers with a history of using excessive force from moving from one jurisdiction to another.
The ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice and the ABA Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice co-sponsored the resolution. Speaking in support, former ABA President Robert Grey Jr. said demands for racial equality had grown louder because of recent events, including the death of George Floyd.
It is now an American movement and one that demands accountability and responsibility, Grey said.
President Bill Clintons sweeping crime bill in 1994 mandated the federal collection of use-of-force data from police departments. But reporting has not been enforced and is inconsistent.
The report that accompanied Resolution 116A estimates that in 2019, police killed more than 1,000 people but says those numbers are based on efforts by the Washington Post and other outlets to capture data. A central database is vital to ensure up-to-date and accurate information, the report says.
The House on Monday also adopted Resolution 106A on restorative justice. The resolution urges prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys and others in the criminal justice system to consider an approach that prescribes meetings between offenders and victims that are facilitated by trained specialists.
Follow along with our coverage of the 2020 ABA Annual Meeting.
Read more from the original source:
- Quinn: Supreme Court should clarify Fourth Amendment rights in the digital age - April 26th, 2014 [April 26th, 2014]
- Fourth amendment | Wex Legal Dictionary / Encyclopedia ... - April 26th, 2014 [April 26th, 2014]
- The Fourth Amendment is destroyed by the Roberts led Supreme Court. - Video - April 26th, 2014 [April 26th, 2014]
- Protections for e-data clear Senate committee - April 27th, 2014 [April 27th, 2014]
- Weighing The Risks Of Warrantless Phone Searches During Arrests - April 29th, 2014 [April 29th, 2014]
- Court may let cops search smartphones - April 29th, 2014 [April 29th, 2014]
- Supreme Court to hear case on police searches of cellphones - April 29th, 2014 [April 29th, 2014]
- Fourth Amendment in the digital age: Supreme Court to decide if police can search cellphones without a warrant - April 30th, 2014 [April 30th, 2014]
- What Scalia knows about illegal searches - April 30th, 2014 [April 30th, 2014]
- Should police be allowed to search your smartphone - Video - April 30th, 2014 [April 30th, 2014]
- The Shaky Legal Foundation of NSA Surveillance on Americans - May 1st, 2014 [May 1st, 2014]
- Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules police don't need warrants to search cars - May 3rd, 2014 [May 3rd, 2014]
- Local police: Updated vehicle-search law still requires probable cause - May 3rd, 2014 [May 3rd, 2014]
- Liberal Supreme Court Justice Comes To The Defense Of Scalia - May 3rd, 2014 [May 3rd, 2014]
- Smartphones and the Fourth Amendment - Video - May 4th, 2014 [May 4th, 2014]
- Fourth Amendment Defined & Explained - Law - May 6th, 2014 [May 6th, 2014]
- I-Team: Do police seek search warrant friendly judges? - May 8th, 2014 [May 8th, 2014]
- Is Big Brother Listening? Applying the Fourth Amendment in an Electronic Age - Video - May 9th, 2014 [May 9th, 2014]
- Magistrate waxes poetic while rejecting Gmail search request - May 10th, 2014 [May 10th, 2014]
- The Fourth Amendment - Video - May 10th, 2014 [May 10th, 2014]
- License reader lawsuit can be heard, appeals court rules - May 15th, 2014 [May 15th, 2014]
- Seize the Rojo - Video - May 16th, 2014 [May 16th, 2014]
- NSA Spying Has a Disproportionate Effect on Immigrants - May 16th, 2014 [May 16th, 2014]
- Motorists sue Aurora, police in 2012 traffic stop after bank robbery - May 18th, 2014 [May 18th, 2014]
- Judge Says NSA Phone Surveillance Likely Unconstitutional - Video - May 21st, 2014 [May 21st, 2014]
- New York Attorney Heath D. Harte Releases a Statement on Fourth Amendment Rights - May 22nd, 2014 [May 22nd, 2014]
- The Fourth Amendment Rights - Video - May 23rd, 2014 [May 23rd, 2014]
- Bangor Area School District teachers vote no to random drug - May 24th, 2014 [May 24th, 2014]
- I Don't Care About The Contitution, Take Your Fourth Amendment And Shove It The Hills Hotel - Video - May 27th, 2014 [May 27th, 2014]
- Lonestar1776 at Illegal Checkpoint 80 Miles Inside Border - Standing UP & Pushing Back! pt 2/2 - Video - August 31st, 2014 [August 31st, 2014]
- Suit charges Daytona Beach's rental inspection program violates civil rights - September 3rd, 2014 [September 3rd, 2014]
- 4th Amendment - Laws.com - September 4th, 2014 [September 4th, 2014]
- YOU CAN ARREST ME NOW (cops refuse, steal phone) - Video - September 7th, 2014 [September 7th, 2014]
- The Feds Explain How They Seized The Silk Road Servers - September 8th, 2014 [September 8th, 2014]
- Volokh Conspiracy: Does obtaining leaked data from a misconfigured website violate the CFAA? - September 9th, 2014 [September 9th, 2014]
- Defence asks judge in NYC to toss out bulk of evidence in Silk Road case as illegally obtained - September 10th, 2014 [September 10th, 2014]
- Family of a mentally ill woman files lawsuit against San Mateo Co. after deadly shooting - September 10th, 2014 [September 10th, 2014]
- Minnesota Supreme Court upholds airport drug case decision - September 12th, 2014 [September 12th, 2014]
- Law Talk - Obamacare Rollout; Fourth Amendment, NSA Spying Stop & Frisk DUI Check Points lta041 - Video - September 12th, 2014 [September 12th, 2014]
- Volokh Conspiracy: The posse comitatus case and changing views of the exclusionary rule - September 15th, 2014 [September 15th, 2014]
- Guest: Why the privacy of a public employees cellphone matters - September 16th, 2014 [September 16th, 2014]
- Volokh Conspiracy: Apples dangerous game - September 19th, 2014 [September 19th, 2014]
- Judge expounds on privacy rights - September 20th, 2014 [September 20th, 2014]
- Great privacy essay: Fourth Amendment Doctrine in the Era of Total Surveillance - September 20th, 2014 [September 20th, 2014]
- The Fourth Amendment By Maison Erdman - Video - September 20th, 2014 [September 20th, 2014]
- Volokh Conspiracy: When administrative inspections of businesses turn into massive armed police raids - September 22nd, 2014 [September 22nd, 2014]
- The chilling loophole that lets police stop, question and search you for no good reason - September 23rd, 2014 [September 23rd, 2014]
- Pet Owners Look to Muzzle Police Who Shoot Dogs - September 27th, 2014 [September 27th, 2014]
- Volokh Conspiracy: A few thoughts on Heien v. North Carolina - September 29th, 2014 [September 29th, 2014]
- Volokh Conspiracy: Third Circuit on the mosaic theory and Smith v. Maryland - October 1st, 2014 [October 1st, 2014]
- Volokh Conspiracy: Third Circuit gives narrow reading to exclusionary rule - October 2nd, 2014 [October 2nd, 2014]
- Volokh Conspiracy: Supreme Court takes case on duration of traffic stops - October 3rd, 2014 [October 3rd, 2014]
- Search & Seizure, Racial Bias: The American Law Journal on the Philadelphia CNN-News Affiliate WFMZ Monday, October 6 ... - October 3rd, 2014 [October 3rd, 2014]
- Argument preview: How many brake lights need to be working on your car? - October 3rd, 2014 [October 3rd, 2014]
- The 'Barney Fife Loophole' to the Fourth Amendment - October 3rd, 2014 [October 3rd, 2014]
- Search & Seizure: A New Fourth Amendment for a New Generation? - Promo - Video - October 4th, 2014 [October 4th, 2014]
- Ap Government Fourth Amendment Project - Video - October 4th, 2014 [October 4th, 2014]
- Lubbock Liberty Workshop With Arnold Loewy On The Fourth Amendment - Video - October 5th, 2014 [October 5th, 2014]
- Feds Hacked Silk Road Without A Warrant? Perfectly Legal, Prosecutors Argue - October 7th, 2014 [October 7th, 2014]
- Supreme Court Starts Term with Fourth Amendment Case - October 7th, 2014 [October 7th, 2014]
- Argument analysis: A simple answer to a deceptively simple Fourth Amendment question? - October 9th, 2014 [October 9th, 2014]
- Feds Say That Even If FBI Hacked The Silk Road, Ulbricht's Rights Weren't Violated - October 9th, 2014 [October 9th, 2014]
- Mass Collection of U.S. Phone Records Violates the Fourth Amendment - Video - October 9th, 2014 [October 9th, 2014]
- Leggett sides with civil liberties supporters - October 10th, 2014 [October 10th, 2014]
- Search & Seizure / Car Stops: A 'New' Fourth Amendment for a New Generation? - Video - October 10th, 2014 [October 10th, 2014]
- The Fourth Amendment- The Maininator Period 4 - Video - October 10th, 2014 [October 10th, 2014]
- Judge nukes Ulbricht's complaint about WARRANTLESS FBI Silk Road server raid - October 11th, 2014 [October 11th, 2014]
- Montgomery County will not hold immigrants without probable cause -- Gazette.Net - October 13th, 2014 [October 13th, 2014]
- Debate: Does Mass Phone Data Collection Violate The 4th Amendment? - October 14th, 2014 [October 14th, 2014]
- Does the mass collection of phone records violate the Fourth Amendment? - October 19th, 2014 [October 19th, 2014]
- When Can the Police Search Your Phone and Computer? - October 21st, 2014 [October 21st, 2014]
- Supreme Court to decide if cops can access hotel registries without warrants - October 22nd, 2014 [October 22nd, 2014]
- Third Circuit Allows Evidence from Warrantless GPS Device - October 22nd, 2014 [October 22nd, 2014]
- US court rules in favor of providing officials access to entire email account - October 24th, 2014 [October 24th, 2014]
- EL MONTE POLICE OFFICER VIOLATES ARMY VETERAN'S FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHT - Video - October 25th, 2014 [October 25th, 2014]
- FBI demands new powers to hack into computers and carry out surveillance - October 30th, 2014 [October 30th, 2014]
- Fourth Amendment (United States Constitution ... - November 4th, 2014 [November 4th, 2014]
- Fourth Amendment - Video - November 4th, 2014 [November 4th, 2014]
- Call Yourself a Hacker and Lose Fourth Amendment Rights - Video - November 5th, 2014 [November 5th, 2014]
- Volokh Conspiracy: Magistrate issues arrest warrants for 17 years but is new to probable cause - November 7th, 2014 [November 7th, 2014]