The Governmental Liability Blog provides strategic analysis and shares actionable insights on noteworthy cases as well as legal developments on matters that impact the liability and interests of entities who do business with governmental partners.

Recent Posts

“How Long Do We have to Keep This?” Record Retention for Local Law Enforcement Documents

Written by: Rebekah Maddox Ditto, Esq. and Jennifer D. Herzog, Esq. Having the honor to represent numerous local law enforcement agencies we often get the question (usually in response to an open records request but sometimes as a result of a lack of space for storage), “How long do we have to keep this?” The

Whose Precedents Count for Qualified Immunity?

Written by: Pearson Cunningham, Esq. On October 18, 2021, the Supreme Court summarily reversed the Ninth Circuit’s denial of qualified immunity to a Union City, California police officer in Rivas-Villegas v. Cortesluna. Many commentators and critics of the qualified immunity defense were a bit surprised. Just last fall, the Court seemed to signal that its

Insights From a County Attorney: The Privilege of Government Service

Written by: Jennifer Dorminey Herzog, Esq. This piece was published in the Fall 2021 edition of Georgia County Government Magazine. I was born and raised in Tift County and after law school returned to my hometown where I am now employed as a partner and shareholder at Hall Booth Smith PC. I focus my practice in

Supreme Court Expands Fourth Amendment Protections

Written by: Phillip E. Friduss, Esq.  Getting hit by a bullet but still escaping in the getaway car implicates the Fourth Amendment after all sayeth Chief Justice Roberts in a heated 5-3 Opinion along ideological lines.  Justice Amy Coney Barrett took no part in the case, which was argued in October before she took her

Supreme Court Quietly Hammers Fifth Circuit in Conditions of Confinement Case, Reversing Qualified Immunity Ruling

Written by: Phillip E. Friduss, Esq. This past Monday, in a per curiam decision (Justice Barrett not participating; Justice Alito concurring to suggest cert should not have been granted, but otherwise concurring with the judgment; and, Justice Thomas, dissenting without written opinion) the Supreme Court reversed and remanded a Fifth Circuit conditions of confinement qualified

Supreme Court Takes on New Fourth Amendment Case

Written by: Phillip E. Friduss, Esq. Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Lange v. California, Docket No. 20-18, where the issue has been coined in two different, but similar ways: Whether the pursuit of a person whom a police officer has probable cause to believe has committed a misdemeanor categorically qualifies as an

How “Open and Obvious” Begets “Plain and Palpable”: Appeals Court Rules for State University in Premises Suit

Written by: Jacquelyn S. Clarke, Esq. and Michael V. Profit, Esq. “Plain, palpable, and undisputed”: that phrase’s appearance in both briefs to the court supporting or opposing, or court orders on, motions for summary judgment underscores the challenge faced by the moving party. Without a settled factual basis, supported by law, summary judgment cannot be

Supreme Court Refuses to Stop Order to Move Inmates From Virus-Ravaged Prison

Written by: Phillip E. Friduss, Esq. Thus is the title of Adam Liptak’s New York Times coverage of the Ohio inmate transfer case, Williams v Wilson case we reported on last week. The piece begins: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused a request from the Trump administration to block a trial judge’s ruling that had ordered

An Unprecedented Time: Decarcerating and other Steps Being Taken in Georgia’s Jails and Prisons as the Result of COVID-19

Written by: Jennifer Dorminey Herzog, Esq. Because of policies of mass incarceration over the past four decades, the United States has incarcerated more people than any other country on Earth.[1]  Highly transmissible novel respiratory pathogens pose a challenge for incarcerated populations because of the ease with which they spread in congregate settings.[2]  The stage is

US Supreme Court Ready to Sit Down to a Full Plate of Qualified Immunity

Written by: Phillip E. Friduss, Esq. Our Supreme Court Justices are about to sit down to an unprecedented feast of qualified immunity.  That feast will be served during its May 15 conference, where the Court will consider thirteen different qualified immunity cert petitions, several of which that have been specifically rescheduled to that date.  We

Yes, it’s True: You Cannot Sue a Dog— Or a Cat, for That Matter

Written by: Phillip E. Friduss, Esq. This column originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of the Georgia’s Cities newspaper. After suffering from brain freeze and writer’s block just days before my deadline, and on the verge of writing some mundane offering on the differences between ministerial and discretionary acts—Boom! Just when I think I’ve

Of Dogs and Privacy: The Warrantless Seizure of a Dog’s Blood, and all that Comes with it

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of the Georgia’s Cities Magazine. Written by: Phillip E. Friduss, Esq. State v. Newcomb, 359 Or. 756 (2016) Act I: Juno Rescued  Amanda Newcomb is out of money. Because of that, she is unable to regularly feed her dog, Juno. Her neighbor, apparently follow­ing Juno’s plight,

US Supreme Court Hands Down Pro-Law Enforcement 4th Amendment Ruling

Written by: Phillip E. Friduss, Esq. Action from the Barren Chambers Monday morning as the Supreme Court handed down a pro-law enforcement ruling in Kansas v. Glover.  Lighting Round Facts – Officer on road runs tag.  The license plate and truck belong to Glover, who has a suspended license.  Pullover  Arrest. Game on, as the

Gun Store Owner Sues Over Shelter-In-Place Ordinance

Written by: Phillip E. Friduss, Esq. Gun store Clyde Armory has sued Athens-Clarke County, Georgia over its shelter-in-place ordinance. The suit claims that that the ordinance is an overstep of power and violates the equal protection and due process clauses as well as the right to bear arms in both the U.S. and Georgia constitutions.

Does a Government’s Late Change of an Unconstitutional Policy Moot Nominal-Damages Claims?

Written by: Phillip E. Friduss, Esq. Currently knocking on the Supreme Court’s door for permission to be heard is a Georgia Free Speech case questioning whether a government’s post-(lawsuit) filing change of an unconstitutional policy moots nominal-damages claims that vindicate the government’s past, completed violation of a plaintiff’s constitutional right. Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, Case No. 19-968

Supreme Court’s Closure Could be First Disease-Related Shuttering in a Century

(What follows was written by Katie Bart and Kalvis Golde. For more of the article, please see link below.) On Thursday, the Supreme Court announced that it would close its doors to the public “until further notice” “[o]ut of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees.” The announcement follows

Forced Labor in Privatized Prisons? Eleventh Circuit Cries Foul!

Written by: Phillip E. Friduss, Esq. On February 28, 2020, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (the federal appellate court for Alabama, Florida, and Georgia) ruled that a federal statute designed to combat human trafficking applies to a privatized federal corrections facility’s alleged practice of punishing and withholding basic human necessities from inmates who refuse

Is a Gunshot Wound a Seizure?

Written by: Phil Friduss, Esq. In recent news: https://verdict.justia.com/2020/02/26/is-a-gunshot-wound-a-seizure Out front right now is Torres v. Madrid, the pending Supreme Court case involving the suspect shot by the police who escaped – the question of whether a Fourth Amendment seizure being front and center. Below is a link to Sherry Colb’s (C.S. Wong Professor of

Citizen Video Audits: Know Their Rights…And Yours

Written by: Scott MacLatchie, Esq. You have probably watched some of the first generation of videos that popped up on social media sites and on YouTube showing officers dealing with people using smartphones to film them. In these videos, the officers would often order the people filming them to stop, and/or they would awkwardly try to


Law enforcement officers and other governmental employees enjoy qualified immunity for discretionary acts in 42 U.S.C. § 1983 matters where the law is not “clearly established” that the action in question violated a Constitutional right. In a recent ruling reversing a grant of summary judgment for law enforcement on qualified immunity grounds, O’Kelley v. Craig,