Joanna Schwartz weighs in on qualified immunity (QI). Schwartz is a UCLA law professor. And a QI expert. Furthermore, she opposes the doctrine. On August 18, Joanna Schwartz appeared on the PBS News Hour. Specifically, to discuss QI.
As PBS News Hour host Lisa Desjardins explains, “Police reform advocates have long wanted [QI] to end, while others think it’s an important protection for law enforcement.” All in all, the discussion surrounding QI is “important and complex.” Thus, PBS brought in two guests. These guests tackle “the different sides of the debate.”
First, Joanna Schwartz. As previously mentioned, she’s against QI. Second, Lenny Kesten. He’s a Boston-based lawyer. He supports QI. Although Kesten attempts to justify the unjust rule, Schwartz clearly has the upper hand.
For example, Desjardins asks Kesten to address a concern. Particularly, the concern that “giving [qualified] immunity to police officers takes away accountability.” In response, Kesten says QI is “an issue of fairness to the police officers.” But he doesn’t say much else. He doesn’t even mention accountability. In fact, he doesn’t answer the question.
Meanwhile, Schwartz answers the question. She doesn’t hesitate to bring up police accountability. The legal scholar is knowledgeable. She’s persuasive.
And she doesn’t mince words.
“We…need to think about…accountability,” Schwartz says. “There has to be consequences for officers when they…violate the law. And there needs to be remedies for people whose rights have been violated.”
When it comes to tackling QI, Joanna Schwartz tells it straight. Indeed, she is known for her groundbreaking 2014 civil rights study. In it, she debunks a common myth about QI. That is, the myth that ending QI will bankrupt officers.
Simply put, when Joanna Schwartz says we must end qualified immunity, she knows what she’s talking about.
Watch Joanna Schwartz weigh in on QI here.