Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Political Science BA


Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

First Advisor

Kathanne Greene, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs


Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine created by the Supreme Court that has allowed police officers to violate people’s rights without fear of consequences. This doctrine protects all but the completely incompetent or those who violate people’s rights knowingly. The original intent of the Supreme Court was to prevent overdeterrence of police officers because of insubstantial lawsuits from being brought against them. This has backfired and now it seems that officers are under deterred because they are often simply placed on administrative leave with little to no consequences. The United States has seen numerous protests in just the last year in response to police killing innocent, unarmed black people. These preventable killings have gone largely unpunished, with the most common consequences being that officers are put on administrative leave which is hardly a consequence. If an officer does end up in court in a civil suit they can avoid being personally liable for their actions by asserting a qualified immunity defense – another of the few simple consequences officers may face. Qualified immunity allows officers to escape financial responsibility in civil suits and is almost always granted (Chung, Hurley, Botts, Januta, & Gomez 2020). This research will examine qualified immunity in the district courts of Mississippi to support the argument that the doctrine should be dismantled by the Supreme Court.