Hot Topic: Qualified Immunity

Several weeks ago, a group of attorneys from Clay Daniel Walton & Adams, PLC, led by Daniel Canon and including myself, filed a petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Yoder vs. University of Louisville. It's a case now four years in the making, having wound its way from U.S. District Court to the Sixth Circuit, then back again, and then back to the Sixth Circuit, where the defendants recently emerged victorious. 

In 2009, Nina Yoder was dismissed from the University of Louisville Nursing School after she posted about her academic experiences on She then sued the University for violating her freedom of speech. Though ostensibly a case about the First Amendment rights of university students, the Sixth Circuit decided Yoder on qualified immunity grounds. If you're not familiar with the concept of qualified immunity, you can read a brief summary here

Apparently qualified immunity is a hot topic these days, because SCOTUSBlog has just profiled two other cases currently seeking review before the Supreme Court that turn on that issue. However, unlike Yoder, the cases of Stanton v. Sims and Plumhoff v. Rickard involve police officers, not university administrators.  

Also worth noting, Stanton is another Sixth Circuit case while Plumhoff is a Ninth Circuit case. Those circuits are currently the two the Supreme Court reverses the most.

Do multiple cases turning on the same legal concept suggest good odds for the granting of cert. in each case? Unfortunately that's a question that can only be answered by the Supreme Court over the next several months.