Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Qualified Immunity For Police Must Be Abolished

The recent examples of police killing Black men show conclusively that reform is needed in how the police do their work.  There are now pending proposals, some by Democrats and some by Republicans, in Congress.  See

At the federal level, the bills address excessive force, chokeholds, qualified immunity, prosecuing police officers for misconduct, the use of no-knock warrants as well as training and reporting requirements.  Additionally, proposals have been made to change state laws.  Events have shown that it is necessary to spell out specifically that certain actions such as kneeling on an individual’s neck, back or lungs is not allowed.  Violations of these prohibitions should get a police officer fired.

In my opinion, abolishing qualified immunity is essential. 

If you believe that the recent examples of police killing Black men shows (or only shows) that there are a few bad apples among the police force, then you should support legislation that restores the civil liberties of people who are subject to the authority of the police.  Only the bad apples among the police would be affected.

Basically without legislative change, you cannot successfully sue the police officer(s) for improper conduct that results in death or injury.  See the examples below in the June 24, 2020 Boston Globe editorial.

“In a case decided last year, Carli Taylor charged that Falmouth Police Officer Ryan Moore “used excessive force when, after stopping her for suspected drunk driving, he grabbed her arm, pulled her out of the car, put her on the ground, placed his knee on her back, and tased her.” But the case didn’t meet the state standard for “threats, intimidation or coercion.”

“Nor did the case of a man shot in the back by a Lawrence police officer (he later died at the hospital). . . .

 “Cases dismissed under just the state’s qualified immunity include one involving a state trooper who illegally strip-searched a woman by the side of the road while making suggestive comments. Or the case of a woman suffering from bipolar disorder who walked away from the hospital that had just admitted her and was subsequently tased by an Athol police officer for not holding out her hands to be handcuffed.”

In Massachusetts, in the state House of Representatives, House Bill 3277 would allow “[a]ny person whose exercise or enjoyment of rights secured by the constitution or laws of the United States, or of rights secured by the constitution or laws of the commonwealth, has been interfered with” to bring a civil action for injunctive and other appropriate relief, including the award of compensatory monetary damages” against “a person or entity acting under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage of the commonwealth or its subdivisions.”

As to qualified immunity, the bill says: “qualified immunity shall not apply to claims for monetary damages except upon a finding that, at the time of the challenged conduct, no reasonable defendant could have had reason to believe that such conduct would violate the law.”

If you live in Massachusetts, please write to your state representative and state senator and ask that they support House Bill 3277 or comparable legislation.

If you live outside of Massachusetts, please review your state laws on qualified immunity.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Let Them Know

In these days of Covid-19, just in case you become sick, make two lists:  (1) Health Contacts & (2) Medications.  Put them in an easy to notice place in your home.

HEALTH CONTACTS:  Write out the name and telephone number of your primary care physician or clinic and your insurance card numbers and a brief summary of any current health conditions.

MED LIST:   If you are taking medications, write out detailed instructions, copy from the prescription label.

List the medications (include prescriptions and over-the-counter vitamins, supplements, etc.) and where they are located. 

List the times per day when the medication is taken, whether it is before, after or with food or with a full glass of water or otherwise.

List how much of the medication is taken—whether any pill chopping or grinding is needed.

Do the same also if you are the caregiver for another and/or for any pets who are on medication.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

We Are All Democrats Now

Bill Kristol Tweet, Feb. 1, 2020:


"Not presumably forever; not perhaps for a day after Nov. 3, 2020; not on every issue or in every way until then. But for the time being one has to say: We are all Democrats now."

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Trump is Only the 44th Person to Become President

Presidential Numerical Nicknames & The Grover Cleveland Rule

Impeachment, constitutional provisions and U.S. Senate rules are in the news.  So now is an appropriate time to discuss The Grover Cleveland Rule.

Cleveland was first elected as the 22nd president, for a term from 1885 to 1889.  Cleveland was the 22nd individual to become president. 

In the next election, where Cleveland again won the popular vote, he lost in the Electoral College to Benjamin Harrison.  Harrison became the 23rd president, with a term from 1889 to 1893. 

In the following election, Grover Cleveland won both the popular vote and the Electoral College.  The second term ran from 1893 to 1897. 

As of 1893, only 23 individuals had become president.

But, on lists of presidents, Cleveland appears as the 24th president.

When George W. Bush became president in 2001, it became common to refer to him as 43.  Forty-three is where George W. Bush is on lists of presidents.  George W. Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush, is 41 on the lists.

But George H. W. Bush was the 40th person to become president, and George W. Bush was the 42nd person to become president.

So while the presidents (and headline writers) may enjoy the numerical nicknames, to date, the United States has, including Donald J. Trump, only had 44 individuals who have been president.

The Grover Cleveland Rule says do not confuse a president’s position on a list of presidents (his or her numerical nickname) with the number of how many individuals have become president.

If the current president is impeached, the following two statements would be consistent with The Grover Cleveland Rule.

“ ‘45’ has been impeached.”

“Of the 44 men who have become president, Donald J. Trump is only the third to be impeached.”

The following statement would be inconsistent with The Grover Cleveland Rule:

“The 45th president has been impeached.”