End qualified immunity in California
Bills and Legislation
SB No. 2
This bill, signed into law by Governor Newsom in September 2021, amends the "Tom Bane Civil Rights Act." Most meaningfully, the amendment creates a process to revoke peace officer certifications, require agencies to investigate claims of conduct internally and report findings of such investigations, and removes some immunity provisions. However, the statewide law still does not include all violations of the constitution on a state level. This limits cause of action to physical force, threats, or violence or the threat of physical force, threats, or violence.
Ends Qualified Immunity for all law enforcement officers
Yes. The statewide law states “The bill would eliminate certain immunity provisions for peace officers and custodial officers, or public entities employing peace officers or custodial officers sued under the act.”
Ends Qualified Immunity for all public employees
No. The statewide law does not end qualified immunity for all public employees, although it does include custodial officers, only stating “Sections 825, 825.2, 825.4, and 825.6 of the Government Code, providing for indemnification of an employee or former employee of a public entity, shall apply to any cause of action brought under this section against an employee or former employee of a public entity."
Ends Qualified Immunity for all state constitutional violations
No. The statewide law mandates that when violating someones constitutional rights, it must be "by thread, intimidation, or coercion, or attempts to interefere by thread, intimidation, or coercion." The full quote states, "If a person or persons, whether or not acting under color of law, interferes by threat, intimidation, or coercion, or attempts to interfere by threat, intimidation, or coercion, with the exercise or enjoyment by any individual or individuals of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or of the rights secured by the Constitution or laws of this state."
Ends monetary caps on all public liability amounts
Yes. The statewide law does not place a monetary cap on public liability amounts; it states “No punitive damages against the State. Cal. Gov’t Code § 818.”
Implements a failure-to-intervene clause
No. The statewide law only requires intervention for excessive use of force. The statewide law only states, “A sustained finding that an officer failed to intervene against another officer using force that is clearly unreasonable or excessive."
Guarantees that victims are compensated the full amount awarded
Yes. The state law provides, "Sections 825, 825.2, 825.4, and 825.6 of the Government Code, providing for indemnification of an employee or former employee of a public entity, shall apply to any cause of action brought under this section against an employee or former employee of a public entity."
Starts attorney fees
Yes. Statewide law states that attorney fees are not included in the plaintiffs awarded damage cap amount; “In addition to any damages, injunction, or other equitable relief awarded in an action brought pursuant to subdivision (c), the court may award the petitioner or plaintiff reasonable attorney’s fees."
Starts holding individual employees accountable
Yes. Statewide law does mandate that the officer is liable for monetary damages. The law states, "An action brought by the Attorney General, any district attorney, or any city attorney may also seek a civil penalty of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000). If this civil penalty is requested, it shall be assessed individually against each person who is determined to have violated this section and the penalty shall be awarded to each individual whose rights under this section are determined to have been violated."
Starts disclosing public records
No. The statewide law does not require that all records be subject to public disclosure. It states “Notwithstanding subdivision (a), subdivision (f) of Section 6254 of the Government Code, or any other law, the following peace officer or custodial officer personnel records and records maintained by any state or local agency shall not be confidential and shall be made available for public inspection pursuant to the California Public Records Act (Chapter 3.5(commencing with Section 6250) of Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code)"
Case studies in California
Qualified immunity impacts everyone. Officers in your state are violating community members’ rights without consequence.
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