Scott v. Harris
What's at Stake
Reviewing whether, and under what circumstances, a law enforcement may claim qualified immunity from damages after ramming the plaintiff’s car during a high speed chase that left the plaintiff severely crippled. DECIDED
Plaintiff’s car was rammed from behind by a deputy sheriff during a high speed chase based on an alleged speeding violation. Both lower courts rejected defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity, reasoning that clearly established law prohibited what the police had done absent a public safety threat, and whether or not a public safety threat existed could only be determined after trial. The ACLU amicus brief supports that conclusion. Its principal argument, however, is that that defendant should not have been permitted to pursue an immediate appeal before the trial was concluded under prevailing Supreme Court law, and that such piecemeal appeals severely disadvantage civil rights plaintiffs.