On February 19, 2021, the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), Criminal Law Society (CLS), Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, Federalist Society, and Street Law jointly presented a program on “The Role of Qualified Immunity in Police Accountability. Denise Isaac (3L) welcomed the group, outlining the importance of events like this in discussing the role of qualified immunity and its legal and practical ties to the topic of police accountability. Isaac thanked the student organizations and their executive boards for bringing the topic to the Catholic Law community, and for their shared belief that “qualified immunity transcends the issues of political discourse.”
Colleen L’Etoile (3L), President of CLS, then introduced the evening’s guest speakers—Stephanie Ferner '11, Office of the County Attorney, Montgomery County, Maryland; J. Wyndal Gordon, The Law Office of J. Wyndal Gordon, P.A; and Lance LoRusso, LoRusso Law Firm. Each has extensive experience and perspective on the topic of qualified immunity. Catholic Law Professor Roger Hartley acted as moderator for the event and began the program by outlining a bit of context for what the speakers would be covering.
Following Hartely’s opening remarks, Ferner, Gordon, and LoRusso each took an opportunity to speak about the work that they do and share some of their thoughts about qualified immunity. The second half of the program was dedicated to questions from the audience. Conversation opened up to include topics including difficulties finding clearly established case law in qualified immunity cases, expectations for reporting misconduct, the role of police unions in qualified immunity, and possible directions for future reform.
About the event L'Etoile shared, "Given that qualified immunity is such a legal, practical, and moral hot topic—especially during a time with so many calling for police reform—it was thought-provoking to hear the various perspectives of our panelists. I hope we can continue to have these kinds of relevant, albeit difficult, conversations at CUA Law.”