Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date

Fall 2020


At the time this Note was written, there was no Washington state equivalent of the § 1983 Civil Rights Act. As plaintiffs look to the Washington state courts as an alternative to federal courts, they will find that Washington state has a different structure of qualified immunity protecting law enforcement officers from liability.

In this Note, Angie Weiss recommends changing Washington state's standard of qualified immunity. This change would ensure plaintiffs have a state court path towards justice when they seek to hold law enforcement officers accountable for harm. Weiss explains the structure and context of federal qualified immunity; compares it to the unique common law nature of Washington state's qualified immunity, Washington state's legal and civic history of supporting government accountability for wrongdoing, including recent incidents of community engagement regarding police accountability; and recommends changes to improve access to justice for plaintiffs.