U.S. Supreme Court rejects cases over 'qualified immunity' for police
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear eight cases involving a legal defense called qualified immunity that can be used to shield government officials from lawsuits including seven involving police accused of excessive force or other misconduct.
In six of the seven cases involving police, plaintiffs who sued officers were challenging actions in lower courts that protected the defendants through qualified immunity. The other one involved two officers who argued they deserve such protection but lost in a lower court.
Among the cases the justices declined to hear was a dispute over whether officers in Tennessee can be sued for using a police dog that bit a man who has said he had put up his hands in surrender. Justice Clarence Thomas, a skeptic of qualified immunity, said in a dissent that the court should have heard that case.
The court could still take up other qualified immunity cases awaiting attention by the justices.