Academic Publications

The Criminal Justice System: George Floyd Bill & Qualified Immunity

Howard M. Henderson | April Frazier Camara | Joanna C. Schwartz | Chris Colbert


The panelists discussed issues around qualified immunity doctrine, police misconduct accountability, civil rights enforcement, and paths forward for reform. They argued qualified immunity doctrine creates barriers to justice and reforms like ending it are critical but not sufficient. Potential next steps include financial penalties for officers, statewide laws, reparations, and amplifying victims’ voices.

Key Takeaways

  • Qualified immunity makes it very difficult for victims of police misconduct to obtain justice in civil suits.
  • Texas and the Fifth Circuit give strong qualified immunity protections, creating barriers.
  • Media narratives often favor police versions of events rather than victims’ perspectives.
  • Reforms like ending qualified immunity are critical but other changes to training, culture, and oversight are also needed.
  • Potential next steps include reparations, financial penalties for officers, statewide laws, and giving victims platforms to share their stories.