Searching for Judges Who Hear: Analyzing the Effects of Colorado’s Abolition of Qualified Immunity on Civil Rights Litigation

By Colin Cowperthwaite

“Section 1983 was born out of the failures of state courts.  Over a hundred years later, [Colorado’s Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act (ELEIA)] was born out of the failures of federal courts to protect individuals from civil rights violations committed by local law enforcement.  By removing qualified immunity as a defense, ELEIA challenged federal courts’ continued relevance in addressing police violence in Colorado.  But as this Comment shows, Colorado’s federal district court remains an active scene for litigating against officers who violate constitutional rights.  While there are many possible explanations for this result, ELEIA should not be taken as a failure.  On the contrary, eighty-two claims that might otherwise have gone unheard in federal courts now can be heard in state courts.  For victims of police violence, ELEIA provides a meaningful source of “ears to hear” their appeals for accountability, remedy, and justice.”

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