UCLA School of Law professor Joanna Schwartz was cited by U.S. Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor in her dissenting opinion in Nieves v. Bartlett. The Court decided the case on May 28, with a majority of the justices holding that probable cause generally overrides a claim that a retaliatory police arrest violated the First Amendment.
In her dissent, Sotomayor wrote that “the burden of a (presumably indemnified) officer facing trial pales in comparison to the importance of guarding core First Amendment activity against the clear potential for abuse that accompanies the arrest power.” There, the justice cited Schwartz’s 2014 NYU Law Review article Police Indemnification, in which Schwartz offered the results of an exhaustive study where she found that governments, rather than individual police officers, pay all but about .02 percent of the money that plaintiffs win in civil rights suits.
A leading national expert on civil procedure and the litigation surrounding police misconduct, Schwartz has been a member of the UCLA Law faculty since 2006 and serves as vice dean for faculty development. In 2018, her authoritative scholarship on police immunity was instrumental to the judge’s decision in another prominent federal court case.