Qualified Immunity Dissonance in the Sixth Circuit: Why We Must Return to Reasonableness
The Sixth Circuit's inconsistent jurisprudence threatens the delicate balance that the defense aims to strike between protecting citizens from having their constitutional rights violated on the one hand and protecting government officials from undue interference with their official duties on the other. This Note critiques the medical emergency-law enforcement response capacity the Sixth Circuit has set forth to help adjudicate qualified immunity claims and suggests improvements the court can make to its qualified immunity jurisprudence.In Part II, I briefly trace the Supreme Court's development of the doctrine and outline the doctrine's policy goals. In Part III, I develop my thesis by exploring the Sixth Circuit's recent qualified immunity decisions and showing why the court's analytical framework leads to inconsistent results. Then, I argue that the Sixth Circuit should abandon the artificial medical emergency-law enforcement response capacity test it uses when police officers respond to medical emergencies. Finally, I explain why qualified immunity's policy rationales demand that if the Sixth Circuit does not abandon the test, it must allow judges to resolve the response capacity issue as a matter of law. Lastly, in Part IV, I explore what scholars might say about the Sixth Circuit's test. Part IV also answers critics who assert that qualified immunity is a fatally flawed doctrine. I argue that qualified immunity effectively accomplishes its fairness and social cost reduction goals.
Note, Qualified Immunity Dissonance in the Sixth Circuit: Why We Must Return to Reasonableness, 59 Clev. St. L. Rev. 463 (2011)
Civil Rights and Discrimination Commons, State and Local Government Law Commons, Torts Commons