Backdoor Municipal Immunity

11 Pages Posted: 10 May 2022

See all articles by Joanna C. Schwartz

Joanna C. Schwartz

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Date Written: April 22, 2022


Although the Supreme Court has ruled that local governments are not entitled to qualified immunity, five federal circuits have concluded that granting an officer qualified immunity dooms a failure to train claim against the municipality. The logic is that local governments cannot train officers about law that is not “clearly established.” This short Essay argues that this backdoor municipal immunity is contrary to Supreme Court precedent and available evidence about the role of court decisions in police policies and training and should be rejected by the Court.

Keywords: qualified immunity, municipal liability, civil rights litigation

JEL Classification: K40, K41, K42

Suggested Citation

Schwartz, Joanna C., Backdoor Municipal Immunity (April 22, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Joanna C. Schwartz (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
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