A Qualified Immunity defense is defined under 42 U.S.C. 1983 provides, "in pertinent part, that '[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State , subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured" (CFIF, 2002).
In many cases, the stopping of a person while in a vehicle or on the street has proven that many times there is no fourth amendment violation as the police may make a traffic stop or stop a pedestrian based on probable cause in the event of information received therein. In the case of United States v. Escalante, 239 F.3d 678 (5th Cir. 2001) "the court said, that although the traffic stop, even if pretextual, does not violate the Fourth Amendment if any officer making the stop has probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred." (Legal Enforcement Legal Review, 2001). By having these traffic stops in the first place is a contentious issue based on the fact perhaps not all traffic stops are based on probable cause, but, rather on racial profiling. The searches of vehicles after the fact should be ruled constitutionally invalid and judgement in favor of the plaintiff. But, many officers use the qualified immunity defense to protect their interests and their integrity by abstaining from legal subjectivity in pending litigation.
The purpose of many officials using the Qualified Immunity defense is fully justified in cases where police stop an average, law-abiding citizen based on their racial profile or for what the police identify as probable cause. When the police use excessive force in further detaining an individual that is not under suspicion of any activity, this is clearly a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights. Once a court case is filed, the officer will then decry qualified immunity based on their assessment that force was needed due to suspected violation of their Constitutional rights.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss cases relative to the claims of Qualified Immunity defense and if similar cases of excessive police force justify how the issue pertains to current criminal justice events and why the issue is important to consider. Discussion will also take form of the present status of this issue before the courts and/or other law-making bodies, a presentation of both sides of the issue presenting a pro/con or for/against discussion, an analysis of the issues and a proposal to bring forth this issue and recommendations for implementation.
Present Case Status of this Issue before the Courts
Since the September 11th attacks, there have been more prevalent instances of police and law enforcement