Results: Who is being sued in qualified immunity cases?

In the appeals we analyzed, law enforcement officials were the most common defendants—but by no means the only ones (see Figure 3). 1  In fact, law enforcement officials were the sole defendants in just 50% of appeals. 2  In another 20%, only prison officials, such as corrections officers, were defendants. 3

Notably, in more than a fifth of appeals (21%), defendants were neither law enforcement nor prison officials. Our algorithms simply identified them as “other,” but our hand-coded sample suggests they tended to be mayors or city managers; university or school officials; prosecutors or judges; and child protective services workers.

Figure 3: Government Defendants Are Diverse
While law enforcement and prison officials are most common, defendants were neither in 21% of appeals

Prisondefendants20% Law enforcement official (LEO) defendants50% Otherdefendants21% LEO &Prison4% LEO &Other5% All three types0.2% Prison & Other0.3%