A judge in the Eastern District of New York yesterday ruled that New York City Police Department officers were not entitled to qualified immunity, instead finding that they must stand trial for alleged constitutional violations. In issuing his decision, Senior District Judge Jack B. Weinstein quoted a statement by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) decrying the U.S. Supreme Court’s troubling expansion of protections for law enforcement in Kisela v. Hughes. Jin Hee Lee, Deputy Director of Litigation at LDF, issued the following statement:
“For years we’ve watched with increasing alarm as federal courts have expanded qualified immunity for law enforcement to a staggering degree. Contrary to its original purpose, the legal doctrine now dangerously thwarts accountability, threatening to undermine constitutional protections by creating an unbreakable shield that prevents police from being held responsible for misconduct. Senior District Judge Weinstein’s measured opinion bucks this trend, ordering that officers must stand trial in this case and allow a jury of their peers to judge the legality of their conduct. No public official is above the law, and Judge Weinstein’s ruling is a necessary reminder to law enforcement that a badge does not offer unchecked power to violate the rights of those they serve.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and 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. 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 NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.