The Special Commission on Qualified Immunity today released a report recommending a two-year continued review of the police reform law before recommending further substantive changes to the qualified immunity doctrine, and amendments to the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act.
Matthew Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, released the following statement in response:
“This commission was mandated to study the impact of qualified immunity, and the evidence that the commission gathered overwhelmingly showed that this doctrine harms the administration of justice. The ACLU is disappointed that the final report does not recommend meaningful changes to qualified immunity at this time. We hope to see the legislature take action to remove this barrier to justice in the future.
“At the same time, this commission has recommended one critical change to improve the administration of justice that deserves action right away. Massachusetts’ civil rights law has a fundamental flaw—even more basic than qualified immunity—that does not exist in federal law or the law of any other state, that prevents victims of direct, egregious civil rights violations from having their day in court. We are very glad that the commission clearly named the out-of-step ‘threats, intimidation or coercion’ language as a problem that needs to be fixed before any other progress can be made.
“We thank commission co-chairs Representative Mike Day and Senator Jamie Eldridge for their leadership and commitment to justice.”