Shantanu R. Kamat is an undergraduate student in the College of Letters and Science at the University of California, Berkeley, where he plans to study political science, economics, and/or mathematics. He has lived his entire life in the Bay Area and graduated maxima cum laude from Saint Francis High School in Mountain View in 2021. Shantanu is particularly interested in international relations, terrorism, criminal justice, the study of capitalism, public choice theory, and the use of statistics to analyze elections and public opinion. He is considering attending law school after completing his undergraduate education. Shantanu has served as a research assistant to Ph.D. candidates at Stanford University and UC Berkeley in the subfields of international relations, security studies, and terrorism/insurgency. Prior to joining the Institute for Youth in Policy as a Summer Fellow (2022), he wrote for and edited his own politics and election analysis website Third Party Review (thirdpartyreview.weebly.com) and worked on a presidential campaign.
On Qualified Immunity, Legal and Practical Analyses Thereof, and Prospects for Reform
I consider the doctrine of qualified immunity in the case of law enforcement from multiple vantage points. I look at the doctrine’s constitutional and common law basis, its history, and examples of how it has been applied in practice. This research project utilizes multiple types of sources, including news articles, research papers, law review articles, and court cases, to ensure that the analysis of a complex issue is conducted holistically and that no major angle goes unaddressed. Furthermore, I incorporate quotes and lessons I learned from Patrick Jaicomo, an attorney at a public interest law firm who is considered an expert in immunity doctrines. I corresponded with Mr. Jaicomo over the course of the preliminary research phase of this project, and he has allowed me to publish his responses to my questions in this work. After conducting legal, historical, and practical analyses of qualified immunity, I review the primary arguments made in favor and against the doctrine, as well as how lawmakers have attempted to change it. To finish, I conclude that qualified immunity ought to be reformed or eliminated and offer some recommendations of ways to proceed.
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