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The Lawfare Podcast: How the Police Became Untouchable

Jen Patja, Jack Goldsmith, Joanna Schwartz
Tuesday, February 14, 2023, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With
Brookings

Last month's brutal murder of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police has once again sparked a national conversation about the causes of and remedies for persistent police misconduct and abuse. To explore this issue, Jack Goldsmith sat down with Joanna Schwartz, a law professor at UCLA School of Law, who is the author of a new book called, “Shielded: How the Police Became Untouchable.” The book argues that police abuse is a result of pervasive pathologies in the legal system that shield from accountability not just police officers, but also their supervisors and the local governments for which they work.

Joanna and Jack discussed the many accountability gaps in the legal regime governing police abuse. Like her book, they focused on problems of achieving justice through the civil rights system, problems that include the high bars to finding a lawyer and to convincing a judge to hear the case, Fourth Amendment doctrine, qualified immunity, and the challenges of municipal liability. They also discussed the best path to reform and the prospects of reform.


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Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Jack Goldsmith is the Learned Hand Professor at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Lawfare, and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Before coming to Harvard, Professor Goldsmith served as Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel from 2003-2004, and Special Counsel to the Department of Defense from 2002-2003.
Joanna Schwartz is a law professor at UCLA School of Law, who is the author of a new book called, “Shielded: How the Police Became Untouchable.”

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