Comment Of The Day: “Sunday Ethics Peeps, 3/28/21…Item #4: Qualified Immunity”

I’m trying to catch up on the Comments of the Day.

Here is Michael R’s entry regarding New York City’s recent elimination of qualified immunity for police officers, from #4 in the post, Sunday Ethics Peeps, 3/28/21: “Hey, Everybody! Free Gym Memberships!”:

How many people think that NYC is going to prove that these qualified immunity laws were necessary by charging virtually every officer on the force for things that officers do every day. Basically, will officers get sued every time they stop a black suspect? What about every time they have to subdue a struggling suspect? Every time they arrest someone who isn’t charged, does the officer get sued?

Don’t get me wrong, I think qualified immunity needs to be greatly restricted, if not revoked. However, I don’t think NYC is a great ‘model city’ for the testbed if we want the rest of the country to adopt it.

Related history: In my state, if someone breaks into my house, I can kill them. No questions asked. I don’t have to prove the intruder was armed, posed a reasonable threat to me, that I tried to retreat, etc. Once they enter my house, their life is forfeit and the prosecutor is forbidden from charging me. It doesn’t matter if I shot them 10 times while they were on the ground begging for their life, it doesn’t matter if I broke their legs with a baseball bat and stabbed them 80 times with a paring knife to kill them.

Do you know why the law was written like that? Because prosecutors could not restrain their personal beliefs about self-defense and charged people who legitimately defended themselves, putting such people in jail for life. The law was written like that because juries can be swayed by lawyers into awarding criminals outrageous settlements for their crimes. The justice system lost the trust and faith of the people and the people took the power away from the justice system.

I suspect that is why qualified immunity laws exist in the first place and we are about to get a refresher course into why they were implemented. I hope I am wrong, but I suspect that I am not. The big case I remember that started these ‘Make My Day’ laws was in Kansas. A group of teenagers broke into an elderly woman’s home while she was trimming her hedges. She went inside and confronted them, and they attacked her. She fought back with a powered hedge trimmer, cutting their legs and arms. She was sued by the group and they were awarded her house and her life savings, leaving her out on the street and penniless.

Cases like this cause people to lose all respect for the judges, lawyers, and the courts.What other decisions have we had lately that were so outrageous that they would lose the trust of the people? Michael Flynn perhaps? Is that why Washington is an armed frontier fort and all of us former citizens are now considered Indians? What percent of the American people believe that the Supreme Court rules on cases based on the Constitution and law? My guess would be single digit percent. How can we have a free country when the vast majority of people don’t have faith in the justice system, elections, or that our government represents the people?

We don’t. We live in a country where the vast majority of the population believes that the elections are rigged, the vast majority of the politicians are bought and paid for, the courts only work to advance their own agenda, and unknown forces control everything. The difference between Republican voters and Democrat voters seems to be that the Republican voters don’t like it that way and Democrat voters do. Democrats did not believe that Joe Biden is competent and running the country, they voted for him BECAUSE they knew he was senile and that he would be controlled by others and the Lt. Col. Vindmann’s and the CITIBanks would run the government again, as they did under Obama.

7 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Sunday Ethics Peeps, 3/28/21…Item #4: Qualified Immunity”

  1. “Some” Republican voters don’t like it that way. Apparently many of the neocons and country-club Republicans are perfectly happy with our country’s managed decline.
    On another note, qualified immunity was never intended to shield officers engaged in illegal acts, gross misconduct or intentionally egregious malfeasance. It was intended to protect officers who, while following the law and the policies of their agency, in the exercise of their duties and within their established authority, make a good-faith mistake that turns out badly. Note that in my state, qualified immunity does not absolve the agency or the governmental body of liability for the actions of its officers, it merely protects the officer as an individual employee. Officers committing crimes should be charged and separated from police service, no doubt. But police officers are human beings and subject to make human errors; if we insist on perfect police officers the ranks will be very thin. That rumbling sound you will begin to hear will be the stampede of police retiring from or quitting agencies and jurisdictions that provide no qualified immunity. It will make it much harder to recruit the best people, much less retain them. “Any society that makes war on its police had better be ready to make friends with its criminals.”

    • The ‘Make My Day Law’ wasn’t intended to let you kill people you know aren’t a threat, but it has that effect. Why? Because we can’t trust the system to be reasonable, so the law is written to account for unreasonable prosecutors, judges, and juries. This leads to abuses, but the law was probably written with the idea that the abuse of the law as written will be better than the abuse of a more reasonable law by the system. I am afraid they were right on these laws when they passed them and we are going to find that out soon.

  2. Related history: In my state, if someone breaks into my house, I can kill them. No questions asked. I don’t have to prove the intruder was armed, posed a reasonable threat to me, that I tried to retreat, etc. Once they enter my house, their life is forfeit and the prosecutor is forbidden from charging me.

    What state is that? Because in most Castle Doctrine jurisdictions I know of, unlawful intrusion into a home only creates a rebuttable presumption that the defender was in reasonable fear of death or grievous bodily harm, not an absolute, no-questions-asked bar on prosecution.

    • Oklahoma

      https://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=69782

      The relevant part of the statute”
      F. A person who uses defensive force, as permitted pursuant to the provisions of subsections A, B, D and E of this section, is justified in using such defensive force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such defensive force. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes charging or prosecuting the defendant.

      You might note that the law has been expanded to businesses because a business owner was convicted of shooting and killing one of several robbers. He had wounded one of the robbers and was going after the others, but before he did, he went back and killed the helpless, wounded robber. The new law makes that legal. Although it was not made retroactive to free Ersland, it is evident that a majority of the population felt his actions were acceptable.

  3. It doesn’t matter if I shot them 10 times while they were on the ground begging for their life, it doesn’t matter if I broke their legs with a baseball bat and stabbed them 80 times with a paring knife to kill them.

    I find this hard to believe. This goes against everything I have ever known about self defense. Sure someone who breaks into your house presents a credible threat, you have no obligation to try to determine why they are there. I am totally onboard with that. But saying that some poor sap who accidently fell through your roof due to a skydiving mishap gives you the right to feed them to a wood chipper in your living room is a bit of a stretch.

    • There is a section for that incident that they would probably not be found to be unlawfully in your house. Note that I said ‘break into the house’, which normally means a deliberate attempt to enter a dwelling unlawfully.

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