Episode 161: Shielded with Joanna Schwartz
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with Joanna Schwartz, a professor of law at UCLA, where she teaches civil procedure and courses on police accountability and public interest lawyering. Her writing, commentary, and research about police misconduct, qualified immunity, indemnification, and local government budgeting have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, CNN, NPR, and elsewhere. Her latest book, Shielded: How the Police Became Untouchable, is the focus of this episode. In recent years, the high-profile murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others have brought much-needed attention to the pervasiveness of police misconduct. Yet it remains nearly impossible to hold police accountable for abuses of power. The decisions of the Supreme Court, state and local governments, and policy makers have, over decades, made the police all but untouchable. In Shielded, Joanna exposes the myriad ways in which our legal system protects police at all costs, with insightful analyses about subjects ranging from qualified immunity to no-knock warrants. The product of more than two decades of advocacy and research, Shielded is a timely and necessary investigation into why civil rights litigation so rarely leads to justice or prevents future police misconduct. Weaving powerful true stories of people seeking restitution for violated rights, cutting across race, gender, criminal history, tax bracket, and zip code, Schwartz paints a compelling picture of the human cost of our failing criminal justice system, bringing clarity to a problem that is widely known but little understood. Shielded is a masterful work of immediate and enduring consequence, revealing what tragically familiar calls for “justice” truly entail. In this episode host Michael Shields and Joanna examine the legal principle of Qualified Immunity as well as Section 1983 of The Civil Rights Act which has been methodically made less powerful by the Supreme Court over the last five decades. They discuss the varying barriers to accountability that exist within the legal system and the myths that act as the backbone of justifying the protection of police misconduct. They explore changes that are occurring that might hint at a days ahead with more robust civil rights enforcement, and so much more.
Grab a copy of Shielded: How The Police Became Untouchable here!
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