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Qualified Immunity: A Litigator's Dream or Worst Nightmare

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 64 minutes
Recorded Date: November 10, 2020
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  • History of Qualified Immunity
  • Influence on Recent Litigation
  • Proposed Changes and the Future
  • Impact on Social Justice
Runtime: 1 hour, 4 minutes
Recorded: November 10, 2020


The doctrine of qualified immunity has been controversial for years, but debate about this doctrine has reached new heights in 2020 influenced in part by the untimely and highly publicized deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. On August 3, 2020, the ABA House of Delegates adopted Resolution 301A which "Urges governments to enact legislation to eliminate or substantially curtail the defense of qualified immunity in civil actions brought against law enforcement officers and Resolution 116A, which "encourages the collection of records and data on use of deadly force, another flashpoint in the national debate over police brutality and racial injustice." In light of these resolutions, the future of this doctrine is unclear.

This seminar will discuss the history of qualified immunity, how it has influenced recent litigation involving police departments, its future considering proposed changes to policing in our country, and its impact on social justice. Whether you litigate cases involving 1983 claims, defend police officers and municipalities, represent aggrieved parties, or just have a passion for social justice, you don't want to miss this discussion about one of the most controversial litigation doctrines in American history.

This program was recorded on November 10th, 2020.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Alexander Conrad Wharton

Attorney at Law
Wharton Law Firm

Alexander graduated Cum laude from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Management and received his Juris Doctorate from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 2007. While enrolled in law school, Alexander was a member and president of the UNC Broun National Trial Team from 2005-2007. He was also honored as Best Oral Advocate-Appellant in the 2005 Moot Court Competition.

Upon his graduation from law school in 2007, Alexander joined Teague Campbell Dennis & Gorham, LLP in Raleigh, North Carolina as an Associate Attorney. While at Teague Campbell, Alexander concentrated his practice in the areas of workers’ compensation and general civil defense. Alexander represented hundreds of North Carolina employers, including privately owned and governmental entities, before the North Carolina Industrial Commission and in District and Superior Courts. He successfully argued and defended various motions before Courts throughout the State of North Carolina.

After three years of practice in North Carolina, Alexander returned to Memphis to join the family firm in September 2010, where he currently concentrates his practice in civil litigation, including personal injury, workers’ compensation, premises liability and municipal law, in addition to criminal defense. Alexander is married to LaToya Monique Wharton, a native of Alexandria, Virginia.

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Robert L. J. Spence, Jr.

Member & Founder
Spence Law Firm

Robert L. J. Spence, Jr. is the Founder and Member of the Spence Law Firm in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Eileen M. Letts

Zuber Lawler Del Duca, LLP

Eileen Letts is a premier civil trial attorney, with dozens of jury trials and over 100 bench trials, often to Fortune 500 companies and iconic government entities. Ms. Letts has won high-stakes trials in a wide variety of subject matters areas. Areas of focus include product liability, complex tort, commercial disputes and police misconduct.

Ms. Letts is a frequent presenter at continuing legal education seminars and panel discussions of the American Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, and the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education.

Ms. Letts possesses deep roots in the Chicago political community. As an example, she served on the transition team of Chicago Mayor-Elect Harold Washington.

Ms. Letts began her career clerking for the Honorable Glenn T. Johnson, Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court.

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Stephen A. Saltzburg

Professor of Law
George Washington University School of Law

Stephen A. Saltzburg joined GW Law in 1990. Before that, he taught at the University of Virginia School of Law, and was named the first incumbent of the Class of 1962 Endowed Chair. In 1996, he founded and directed the master’s program in Litigation and Dispute Resolution at GW. He was named University Professor, the highest title a University can confer upon a faculty member, in 2004.

The Chief Justice of the United States appointed him as reporter for, and then as a member of, the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and as a member of the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Evidence. He was the reporter for the Civil Justice Reform Act Committee for the D.C. District Court before he became chair. He has served as a special master in two class action cases in the D.C. District Court, and continues to serve as a mediator for the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. He has mediated a variety of disputes involving public agencies and private litigants; served as a sole arbitrator, panel chair, and panel member in domestic arbitrations; and served as an arbitrator for the International Chamber of Commerce.

Professor Saltzburg held the following governmental positions: associate independent counsel in the Iran-Contra investigation; deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Attorney General’s ex-officio representative on the U.S. Sentencing Commission; and director of the U.S. Treasury Department Tax Refund Fraud Task Force. He was chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section from 2007 to 2008, and represents the section in the ABA House of Delegates. He was appointed to the ABA Task Force on Terrorism and the Law and to the ABA Task Force on Gatekeeper Regulation and the Profession in 2001, and to the ABA President’s Advisory Group on Citizen Detention and Enemy Combatant Issues in 2002. In 2001 he was appointed by Chief Judge Edward R. Becker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit as co-chair of the Task Force on the Selection of Lead Counsel in Class Actions, which published its final report in 2002. Professor Saltzburg is the author of numerous books and articles on evidence, procedure, and litigation.

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Chauntis Jenkins-Floyd

Senior Counsel

Chauntis Jenkins-Floyd is Senior Counsel at Travelers. After following her heart and husband to Georgia in 2016, she founded the Jenkins-Floyd Law Firm. She is a former Partner of Porteous, Hainkel & Johnson Law Firm in New Orleans, Louisiana. Over the past 20 years, she has developed an extensive trial and litigation practice representing national and local corporations in litigation involving insurance coverage, insurance defense, premise liability, merchant/retail liability, product liability, labor and employment, procurement and intellectual property law in state and federal court. She is licensed to practice law in Louisiana and Georgia.

Mrs. Jenkins-Floyd is a native of New Orleans, LA. She is a 1998 graduate of Southern University Law Center and she was a member of Law Review, Vice President of SBA, and President of Women in Law. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University New Orleans in 1995. She was a Top Ten Honor graduate from Eleanor McMain Magnet Senior High School in 1991.

Mrs. Jenkins-Floyd has been ranked as a top rated Civil Litigation Attorney in New Orleans by Super Lawyers Magazine 2016-19 . In 2012, the Louisiana Supreme Court appointed Mrs. Jenkins-Floyd to serve as Judge Pro Tempore in Division K of Orleans Parish Civil District Court. Mrs. Jenkins-Floyd is a recipient of the SULC 2011 Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 2010, she received the Louisiana State Bar Association President’s Award for her exemplary work as Chair of the Annual Conclave on Diversity in the Profession.

Mrs. Jenkins-Floyd is a leader in the American Bar Association and continues to volunteer with many civic and local bar organizations. Mrs. Jenkins-Floyd remains a frequent speaker at ABA and local bar association conferences regarding substantive, professional development and diversity topics.

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