The Legal Defense Fund (LDF) proudly endorses New York State Senate Bill S182, championed by Senator Robert Jackson, and Assembly bill A710, championed by Assemblymember Pamela Hunter. These bills would end qualified immunity in the State of New York, and important work has been done by impacted families and advocates to advance their passage. Qualified immunity is a doctrine that protects government officials, including police officers, from liability in civil cases when they have been sued for violating a person’s constitutional rights.
“Qualified immunity routinely denies victims justice while signaling to government officials that they are above the law,” said Deputy Director of Litigation Chris Kemmitt. “These bills do their part in mending our broken accountability system by allowing plaintiffs to bring their cases directly in New York State court while eliminating qualified immunity as a defense. We strongly endorse this legislation, which sets an example for other states in ending this dangerous doctrine, and we urge the State Senate and Assembly to pass it.”
“The Campaign to End Qualified Immunity in New York began in 2018, following the wrongful death of Dante Taylor, who died by suicide in solitary confinement after being brutally beaten by guards. Qualified immunity has remained a barrier that has prevented Darlene McDay, Dante’s mother, from securing justice ever since,” said Criminal Justice Community Organizer Obi Afriye. “This is one of many tragic cases in which government officials attempt to use qualified immunity to shield themselves from accountability. This legislation is necessary to give victims of state violence the ability to pursue justice and closure for losses that can never be unfelt.”
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.