Civil Rights Mediation in Seattle: How Qualified Immunity Impacts Your Cases

Clashes with citizens and police have been making headlines for the past several months. Many individuals have accused law enforcement of using excessive force, and law enforcement in many areas maintains that the facts of certain situations have been manipulated by the media. Ultimately, civil rights cases in Seattle often quickly become complex and emotional, making them excellent candidates for mediation. Civil rights mediation in Seattle has allowed many of these cases to settle much earlier than if the parties had gone to trial.

Many issues impact civil rights cases, such as qualified immunity. Most attorneys never encounter qualified immunity issues in their general practice, but such issues are common in certain civil rights cases. Qualified immunity is granted by federal law. It offers police officers and other government employees immunity from facing civil lawsuits for incidents that occur during the course of employment, so long as the employees did not clearly violate applicable laws.

For example, consider the situation where a police officer sees an individual who matches the description of a suspect in a violent robbery. The police officer approaches the individual, who flees. When the officer attempts to apprehend this individual, the individual pulls a gun, and the cop fires, killing the individual. If it turns out that this individual was not the person of interest in the robbery, qualified immunity can still protect the officer from facing a civil lawsuit because he could have had an objective reasonable belief that his actions were lawful.

Excessive force and false arrest are some of the most common claims brought against law enforcement officers. Whether you represent the police officers or the individuals who feel that their rights have been violated, a greater understanding of qualified immunity will serve you well at a civil rights mediation.