In 1967, the Supreme Court docket invented a brand new authorized precept referred to as certified immunity that restricted the general public’s proper to sue sure authorities staff. Seemingly designed to guard authorities officers from frivolous lawsuits, in follow, it largely shields the police from being sued for misconduct, even when they’ve violated somebody’s constitutional rights. In impact, it makes it completely authorized for the police to infringe on residents’ rights.
How did we get to the purpose the place the people who find themselves sworn to guard the regulation should not have to comply with it? In her guide, Shielded: How the Police Turned Untouchable, UCLA regulation professor Joanna Schwartz deftly explains the sophisticated internet of legal guidelines and insurance policies that exist in the USA for the only goal of defending the police. Within the course of, she shines a light-weight on each side of the justice system, from the federal jury system, which is disproportionately white and center class, to Supreme Court docket choices that make little sense within the context of on a regular basis life.
After learning police accountability for many years, Schwartz’s experience in legal justice regulation shines in Shielded. The guide is an element analysis and half historical past, and it’s full of vital case regulation, most of which the typical particular person gained’t have heard of. These vital courtroom precedents decide how the police are allowed to interact with the general public, reminiscent of whether or not or not police want a warrant to go looking you whenever you’re minding your small business strolling down the road. (They don’t.) However that is no legalese-filled educational treatise. It’s extremely participating as a result of Schwartz easily weaves the human story into every case she explains. In any case, there’s a actual particular person behind each story of police misconduct. Somebody was brutalized or their rights have been ignored, and this guide explains precisely how the police have been allowed to get away with it.
Though these legal guidelines have been in place for many years, Schwartz doesn’t imagine that they’re unstoppable or that police misconduct will proceed to go unpunished indefinitely. Along with dissecting the issue, she additionally gives concepts for options, reminiscent of educating the general public on the failures of legal justice regulation and requiring the police to pay a portion of civil settlements. Shielded is a significant, well-researched and readable work that can open many discussions about this vital social challenge.