End qualified immunity in Utah
Bills and Legislation
HB367, which did not pass, would have ended qualified immunity in instances where a police officer engaged in “unlawful, negligent or improper conduct” while on duty. It came out late in the session, and therefore didn't have the necessary stakeholder input to advance the bill.
Ends Qualified Immunity for all law enforcement officers
Yes. The proposed legislation states "A peace officer who, under color of law, subjects any other person to the deprivation of individual rights is liable to the person for legal, equitable, or other appropriate relief… Qualified immunity is not a defense to liability under this section."
Ends Qualified Immunity for all public employees
No. The proposed legislation does not end qualified immunity for all public employees.
Ends Qualified Immunity for all state constitutional violations
Partial. The proposed legislation addresses only select rights from the Utah Constitution, and states "Deprivation of individual rights" which "means the deprivation of any of the following rights under the Utah Constitution: (a) Utah Constitution, Article I, Section 1 [Inherent and inalienable rights]; (b) Utah Constitution, Article I, Section 7 [Due process of law]; (c) Utah Constitution, Article I, Section 9 [Excessive bail and fines -- Cruel punishments]; (d) Utah Constitution, Article I, Section 14 [Unreasonable searches forbidden -- Issuance of warrant]; (e) Utah Constitution, Article I, Section 17 [Elections to be free -- Soldiers voting]; (f) Utah Constitution, Article I, Section 22 [Private property for public use]; (g) Utah Constitution, Article I, Section 24 [Uniform operation of laws]; and (h) Utah Constitution, Article I, Section 25 [Rights retained by people]. "
Ends monetary caps on all public liability amounts
No. The proposed legislation states, "A civil action under this section: (a) must be commenced within four years after the cause of action accrues; and (b) is subject to the statutory calculations and limitations on damages described in Title 133 63G, Chapter 7, Part 6, Legal Actions Under this Chapter - Procedures, Requirements, Damages, and Limitations on Judgments." That section of the code places caps on damages.
Implements a failure-to-intervene clause
No. The proposed legislation does not hold officers civilly liable when failing to intervene. Bill does mention failure to intervene, but only with regards to physical force.
Guarantees that victims are compensated the full amount awarded
Yes. The proposed legislation states, "Except as provided in Subsections (4)(b), (4)(c), and (4)(d), a peace officer's employer shall indemnify the peace officer for any liability incurred by the peace officer and for any judgment entered against the peace officer for claims arising under this section. Except as provided in Subsection (4)(c): (i) the peace officer is personally liable for damages awarded under this chapter not exceeding $50,000 of the damages awarded. The peace officer's employer shall pay any portion of the amount described in Subsection (4)(b) that the plaintiff is not able to recover from the peace officer."
Starts attorney fees
Yes. Legislation states, “In an action brought under this section, a court shall award reasonable attorney fees and costs to a prevailing plaintiff.”
Starts holding individual employees accountable
Yes. The proposed legislation states "Except as provided in Subsection (4)(c): (i) the peace officer is personally liable for damages awarded under this chapter not exceeding $50,000 of the damages awarded; . . ."
Starts disclosing public records
No. The proposed legislation does not require that all records are publicly disclosed. Utah Code § 63G-2-301(3)(o) is conditional, states “Records that would disclose information relating to formal charges or disciplinary actions against a past or present governmental entity employee if: the disciplinary action has been completed and all time periods for administrative appeal have expired; and the charges on which the disciplinary action was based were sustained;”
Case studies in Utah
Qualified immunity impacts everyone. Officers in your state are violating community members’ rights without consequence.
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