Chief’s Counsel: Solving the Conundrum of the “Clearly Established” Prong of Qualified Immunity

Having taken an oath to serve and protect, law enforcement officers are called upon to guard against those who would do harm. In fulfilling this oath, however, those officers face an omnipresent danger: potential civil liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 when they are alleged to have violated an individual’s federal civil rights. This threat of liability hangs over the heads of many officers like the proverbial sword of Damocles. While the defense of qualified immunity should provide officers with shelter from such claims, the misapplication of the defense has resulted in negative consequences for many officers.