Joanna Schwartz

Visiting Professor of Law

Spring 2017

Areeda 129

617-495-5009

Assistant: Carol Igoe / 617-496-1768

Biography

Joanna Schwartz is a Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law. She teaches Civil Procedure, the Civil Rights Litigation Clinic, and a variety of courses on police accountability and public interest lawyering. In 2015, she received UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

Professor Schwartz is one of the country’s leading experts on police misconduct litigation. Her studies examine the frequency with which police departments gather and analyze information from lawsuits, and the ways in which litigation-attentive departments use lawsuit data to reduce the likelihood of future harms. She has also examined the financial effects of police misconduct litigation, including the frequency with which police officers contribute to settlements and judgments in police misconduct cases, and the extent to which police department budgets are affected by litigation costs. Professor Schwartz has also looked more broadly at how lawsuits influence decision-making in hospitals, airlines, and other organizational settings.

Professor Schwartz additionally studies the dynamics of modern civil litigation. Recent scholarship examines the degree to which litigation costs and delays necessitate current civil procedure rules, and compares rhetoric with available evidence about the costs and burdens of class action litigation. She is co-author, with Stephen Yeazell, of a leading casebook, Civil Procedure (9th Edition).

Professor Schwartz is a graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School. She was awarded the Francis Wayland Prize for her work in Yale Law School’s Prison Legal Services clinic. 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. She was awarded the New York City Legal Aid Society's Pro Bono Publico Award for her work as co-counsel representing a class of inmates challenging conditions at Rikers Island. Immediately prior to her appointment, Professor Schwartz was the Binder Clinical Teaching Fellow at UCLA School of Law.

Areas of Interest

Joanna Schwartz, How Governments Pay: Lawsuits, Budgets, and Police Reform, 63 UCLA L. Rev. 1144 (2016).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
,
Empirical Legal Studies
,
State & Local Government
,
Government Accountability
Type: Article
Abstract
For decades, scholars have debated the extent to which financial sanctions cause government officials to improve their conduct. Yet little attention has been paid to a foundational empirical question underlying these debates: When a plaintiff recovers in a damages action against the government, who foots the bill? In prior work, I found that individual police officers virtually never pay anything toward settlements and judgments entered against them. But this finding prompts another question: Where does the money come from, if not from individual officers? The dominant view among those who have considered this question is that settlements and judgments are usually paid from jurisdictions’ general funds with no financial impact on the involved law enforcement agencies, and some have suggested that agencies would have stronger incentives to improve behavior were they required to pay settlements and judgments from their budgets. But, beyond anecdotal information about the practices in a few large agencies, there has been no empirical inquiry into the source of funds used by governments to satisfy suits involving the police. In this Article, I report the results of the first nationwide study to examine how cities, counties, and states budget for and pay settlements and judgments in cases against law enforcement. Through public records requests, interviews, and other sources, I have collected information about litigation budgeting practices in one hundred jurisdictions across the country. Based on the practices in these one hundred jurisdictions, I make two key findings. First, settlements and judgments are not always — or even usually — paid from jurisdictions’ general funds; instead, cities, counties, and states use a wide range of budgetary arrangements to satisfy their legal liabilities. All told, half of the law enforcement agencies in my study financially contribute in some manner to the satisfaction of lawsuits brought against them. Second, having a department pay money out of its budget toward settlements and judgments is neither necessary nor sufficient to impose a financial burden on that department. Some law enforcement agencies pay millions from their budgets each year toward settlements and judgments, but the particularities of their jurisdictions’ budgeting arrangements lessen or eliminate altogether the financial impact of these payments on these agencies. On the other hand, smaller agencies that pay nothing from their budgets toward lawsuits may nevertheless have their very existence threatened if liability insurers raise premiums or terminate coverage in response to large payouts. These findings should expand courts’ and scholars’ understandings of the impact of lawsuits on police reform efforts, inspire experimentation with budgeting arrangements that encourage more caretaking and accountability by law enforcement, and draw attention to the positive role government insurers can and do play in efforts to promote risk management and accountability in policing.
Joanna Schwartz, Police Indemnification, 89 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 885 (2014).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Civil Practice & Procedure
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
,
Litigation & Settlement
,
Remedies
,
Civil Rights
,
Empirical Legal Studies
,
Government Accountability
,
State & Local Government
Type: Article
Abstract
This Article empirically examines an issue central to judicial and scholarly debate about civil rights damages actions: whether law enforcement officials are financially responsible for settlements and judgments in police misconduct cases. The Supreme Court has long assumed that law enforcement officers personally satisfy settlements and judgments, and has limited individual defendant and government liability in civil rights damages actions — through qualified immunity, municipal liability standards, and limitations on punitive damages — based in part on this assumption. Scholars are ambivalent: some believe officers almost always satisfy settlements and judgments against them and others contend indemnification is not a certainty. In this Article, I report the findings of a national study of police indemnification. Through public records requests, interviews, and other sources, I have collected information about indemnification practices in 44 of the largest law enforcement agencies across the country, and 37 mid-sized and small agencies. My study reveals that police officers are virtually always indemnified: during the study period, governments paid approximately 99.98% of the dollars that plaintiffs recovered in lawsuits alleging civil rights violations by law enforcement. Law enforcement officers in my study never satisfied a punitive damages award entered against them and almost never contributed anything to settlements or judgments — even when indemnification was prohibited by law or policy, and even when officers were disciplined, terminated, or prosecuted for their conduct. After describing my findings, this Article considers the implications of widespread indemnification for qualified immunity, municipal liability, and punitive damages doctrine; civil rights litigation practice; and the deterrence and compensation goals of § 1983.
Joanna Schwartz, Gateways and Pathways in Civil Procedure, 60 UCLA L. Rev. 1652 (2013).
Categories:
Civil Practice & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Practice & Procedure
Type: Article
Abstract
Over the past thirty years, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Judicial Conference have modified the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to address concerns that litigation costs too much, takes too long, and leads to unjust results. The Supreme Court’s opinions have focused primarily on fortifying what I refer to as the gateways of civil procedure— including motions to dismiss, motions for class certification, and motions for summary judgment—where judges can dismiss cases that do not meet the applicable standards, thereby eliminating additional cost and delay. The Judicial Conference, in contrast, has focused primarily on regulating what I call the pathways of civil procedure— nondispositive, context-specific decisions during discovery and before trial—to target problems of cost and delay while allowing cases to proceed. Scholars have dissected and debated these gateway and pathway changes but have paid less attention to how these conversations—and the underlying rules—interrelate. This Article offers a unified framework with which to understand the Rules’ two contrasting strategies to achieve just and efficient outcomes and examines available evidence measuring gateways’ and pathways’ relative effectiveness at achieving their shared goals. Stepping back, this Article asks how best to understand the roles of gateways and pathways in civil process and considers new, hybrid rules that draw on characteristics of gateways and pathways and may improve on current design.

Education History

Current Courses

Course Catalog View

Areeda 129

617-495-5009

Assistant: Carol Igoe / 617-496-1768