State Senator John Curran (R-Downers Grove) has been appointed to serve on the General Assembly’s Task Force on Constitutional Rights and Remedies.
“The creation of this task force is a provision in the Criminal Justice Reform legislation passed in January and signed into law as P.A. 101-652. It was added to the legislation as an alternative to stripping police officers of an essential workplace protection known as ‘Qualified Immunity’,” said Sen. Curran. “As discussions continue about how to best implement reforms to our criminal justice system to avoid any unintended consequences that could undermine public safety, the work of this task force will be equally important to maintain the decades-old balance between holding our public officials accountable and providing protection from the disruptive impact of frivolous litigation.”
The task force is charged with developing and proposing policies and procedures to improve and reform constitutional rights and remedies, including Qualified Immunity for peace officers. Eighteen people will serve on the panel, and Sen. Curran will act as the Senate Republican Caucus’ designee. The Task Force starts its work at an important time, as currently there is a bill moving in the Illinois General Assembly, HB 1727, that would prohibit a police officer from asserting Qualified Immunity in defending themselves in a lawsuit involving their official police actions.
“I am pleased to work on these important issues and that the Task Force is comprised of individuals with many different viewpoints on the subject of Policing and Public Safety,” added Sen. Curran. “I have always believed we do our best work as lawmakers when we provide opportunities for all points of view to be heard and respected. I look forward to reviewing available research and exploring best practices with this group.”
In 1967, the United States Supreme Court established the doctrine of Qualified Immunity, which applies if the law violated by a government official, such as a police officer, is not “clearly established”. In other words, a plaintiff can overcome a qualified immunity defense only by showing that the government official’s conduct violated a clearly established federal statutory or constitutional right of which a reasonable person would have known.
Task force members will serve without compensation and must meet at least three times prior to producing a report outlining their findings and recommendations. The final report must be delivered to the Governor and General Assembly by May 1, 2021.