Qualified immunity is one of the largest obstacles facing civil rights attorneys. The doctrine of qualified immunity gives police officers or other state actors immunity from suit in certain situations. To overcome the defense the plaintiff first needs to prove that (1) the defendant violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights; and (2) that the constitutional violation
The legal doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials who apply force reasonably or apply force in situations where the law is unclear. The purpose of qualified immunity is to prevent government officials from being discouraged carrying out their duties or protecting themselves from violent individuals. In practice, however, qualified immunity often causes judges to throw meritorious lawsuits out of court.
What does the shooting of Michael Brown and subsequent unrest in Ferguson have to do with the doctrine of qualified immunity? When a citizen wants to sue a police officer for excessive force, the first thing that person must overcome is the judicially created doctrine of "qualified immunity." Under that doctrine, local law enforcement personnel can be eligible for qualified immunity if they establish they were acting in their "discretionary capacity" during the alleged violations.