Joanna C. Schwartz

Professor of Law
Faculty Director, David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy

  • B.A. Brown University, 1994
  • J.D. Yale, 2000
  • UCLA Faculty Since 2006

Joanna Schwartz is Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law and the Faculty Director of the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. She teaches Civil Procedure and a variety of courses on police accountability and public interest lawyering. She received UCLA's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2015, and served as Vice Dean for Faculty Development from 2017-2019.

Professor Schwartz is one of the country's leading experts on police misconduct litigation and the author of Shielded: How the Police Became Untouchable (2023). Her recent scholarship—published in the Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, Columbia Law Review, New York University Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Northwestern Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, UCLA Law Review, and elsewhere—includes articles empirically examining the justifications for qualified immunity doctrine; the financial impact of settlements and judgments on federal, state, and local law enforcement officers and agency budgets; and regional variation in civil rights protections across the country. She has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Atlantic, The Boston Review, and Politico, and has appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air, CBS Sunday Morning, PBS NewsHour, ABC News, CNN, MSNBC, and elsewhere. Professor Schwartz additionally studies the dynamics of modern civil litigation and is the co-author, with Stephen Yeazell and Maureen Carroll, of a leading casebook, Civil Procedure (11th Edition).

Professor Schwartz is a graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School. After law school, Professor Schwartz clerked for Judge Denise Cote of the Southern District of New York and Judge Harry Pregerson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She was then associated with Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, in New York City, where she specialized in police misconduct, prisoners' rights, and First Amendment litigation.

You can find more information about Professor Schwartz’s research at


  • Books
    • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; With Selected Statutes and Cases (with Stephen Yeazell). Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Law & Business (2023).
    • Shielded: How the Police Became Untouchable. Viking (February 2023).
    • Civil Procedure (with Stephen Yeazell). 10th ed. Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Law & Business (2022).
  • Articles And Chapters
    • Constitutional Recalibration: Lessons from New Mexico, 54 N.M. L. Rev. 345 (2024). Full Text
    • Municipal Immunity, 109 Va. L. Rev. 1181 (2023). Full Text
    • Civil Rights Without Representation, 64 WMMLR 641. Full Text
    • Backdoor Municipal Immunity, 132 Yale L.J. Forum 136. Full Text
    • Lexipol’s Fight Against Police Reform (with Ingrid Eagly), 97 Indiana Law Journal 1 (2022). Full Text
    • New Federalism And Civil Rights Enforcement (with Alexander Reinert and James E. Pfander), 116 Northwestern University Law Review 737 (2021). Full Text
    • Going Rogue: The Supreme Court's Newfound Hostility to Policy-Based Bivens Claims (with Alexander Reinert and James E. Pfander), 96 Notre Dame Law Review 1835 (2021). Full Text
    • Qualified Immunity's Boldest Lie, 88 University of Chicago Law Review 605 (2021). Full Text
    • Qualified Immunity and Federalism All the Way Down, 109 Georgetown Law Journal 305 (2020). Full Text
    • Civil Rights Ecosystems, 114 Michigan Law Review 1539 (2020). Full Text
    • The Myth of Personal Liability: Who Pays When Bivens Claims Succeed (with James E. Pfander and Alex Reinert), 72 Stanford Law Review 561 (2020). Full Text
    • Qualified Immunity's Selection Effects, 114 Northwestern University Law Review 1101 (2020). Full Text
    • After Qualified Immunity, 120 Columbia Law Review 309 (2020). Full Text
    • Systems Failures in Policing, 51 Suffolk University Law Review 535 (2018). Full Text
    • The Case Against Qualified Immunity, 93 Notre Dame Law Review 1797 (2018). Full Text
    • Lexipol: The Privatization of Police Policymaking (with Ingrid V. Eagly), 96 Texas Law Review 891 (2018). Full Text
    • How Qualified Immunity Fails, 127 Yale Law Journal 2 (2017). Full Text
    • The Cost of Suing Business, 65 DePaul Law Review 655 (2016). (Clifford Symposium) Full Text
    • Who Can Police the Police?, 2016 Univ. of Chicago Legal Forum 437 (2016). Full Text
    • How Governments Pay: Lawsuits, Budgets, and Police Reform, 63 UCLA Law Review 1144 (2016). Full text
    • Introspection through Litigation, 90 Notre Dame Law Review 1055 (2015). Full Text
    • Police Indemnification, 89 New York University Law Review 885 (2014). Full Text
    • A Dose of Reality for Medical Malpractice Reform, 88 New York University Law Review 1224 (2013). Full Text
    • Gateways and Pathways in Civil Procedure, 60 UCLA Law Review 1652 (2013). Full Text
    • What Police Learn from Lawsuits, 33 Cardozo Law Review 841 (2012). Full Text
    • Myths and Mechanics of Deterrence: The Role of Lawsuits in Law Enforcement Decisionmaking, 57 UCLA Law Review 1023 (2010). Full Text
  • Other
    • How Public Safety in Minneapolis Can Begin Its Next Chapter.  (Minneapolis Star-Tribune July 7, 2023).
    • ‘Well, Is There Blood on the Street?’: Why So Few Lawyers Are Willing to Take Civil-Rights Cases.  (The Atlantic Apr. 2, 2023).
    • Not Everything That is Faced Can Be Changed, But Nothing Can Be Changed Until it is Faced.  (Balkinization Blog Mar. 10, 2023).
    • Qualified Immunity Is Burning a Hole in the Constitution.  (Politico Feb. 19, 2023) 
    • How the Supreme Court Protects Police Officers.  (The Atlantic Jan. 31, 2023).
    • How Can We Get Justice for Tyre Nichols and Other Victims of Police Brutality?.  (Los Angeles Times Jan. 27, 2023).
    • To Reform Policing Accountability, States Need Not Wait on Supreme Court and Congress.  (USA Today, Feb. 5, 2022) (with Alex Reinert and James Pfander).
    • He Died After a Cop Kneeled on His Neck for Fourteen Minutes. Now His Family Can Finally Sue.  (USA Today, Dec. 29, 2021) 
    • Supreme Court Just Doubled Down on Flawed Qualified Immunity Rule. Why That Matters.  (USA Today, Oct. 19, 2021). 
    • The Supreme Court Is Giving Lower Courts a Subtle Hint to Rein In Police Misconduct, The Atlantic (Mar. 4, 2021).
    • Ending Qualified Immunity Won’t Ruin Cops’ Finances. It Will Better Protect the Public.  (USA Today, Oct. 14, 2021).
    • Don’t Let Tucker Carlson Scare You: Reform Won’t Hurt Good Cops (with Patrick Jaicomo & Anya Bidwell), Orange County Register (July 8, 2020).
    • The Unnecessary Protection of Qualified Immunity (with Seth Stoughton), Justia Verdict (June 26, 2020).
    • Hold Prosecutors Accountable, Too  (with Kate Levine), Boston Review (June 22, 2020).
    • Who Should Pay for Police Misconduct?, Law and Political Economy Blog (June 11, 2020).
    • The Simple Way Congress Can Stop Federal Officers from Abusing Prisoners (with James Pfander and Alex Reinert), Politico (June 10, 2020).
    • Suing the Police for Abuse is Nearly Impossible. The Supreme Court Can Fix That, The Washington Post (June 3, 2020).
    • Imagining A World Without Qualified Immunity, Parts I-V , Volokh Conspiracy (September 2019).
    • The Case Against Qualified Immunity, Parts I-V, Volokh Conspiracy (June 2018).
    • Blind Justice, Lady Liberty, and the War on Terror, Balkinization Blog (May 18, 2017). (For the symposium on James Pfander, Constitutional Torts and the War on Terror.)
    • Police Unfazed by Legal Liability, Daily Journal (March 24, 2015). Guest Column.
    • The Cost of Suing Business, The CLS Blue Sky Blog (May 12, 2015).
    • Learning From Litigation, New York Times (May 16, 2013). Op-Ed.
    • Watching the Detectives, New York Times (June 15, 2011). Op-Ed.