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Rappaport Launches Debate Series

BC Law and Harvard team up to present first dialogue, on qualified immunity for police.


The Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at Boston College Law School and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard Kennedy School are launching an annual debate series on May 25. The topic? Qualified immunity.

The one-hour inaugural debate, to be held via Zoom at 5 p.m., features Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, and Leonard H. Kesten, partner at Brody Hardoon, Perkins & Kesten, a Boston law firm. Tiziana Dearing, host of “Radio Boston” on WBUR, will moderate. (To register for the qualified immunity event, go to

Their subject, “Should Qualified Immunity for Police Be Redefined?”, is in keeping with the missions of the two Rappaport organizations hosting the event. Their intention is to enrich the Greater Boston communities by engaging the region’s scholars, students, and policymakers in dynamic conversations and research on critical public policy issues.

Espinoza-Madrigal has filed and won dozens of life-changing and law-changing cases on a range of civil rights issues, including immigrants’ civil rights and LGBTQ/HIV equality. He recently led a Congressional delegation to document the humanitarian crisis in Central America. Kesten, a trial lawyer who has conducted over 135 jury trials, is considered a leading defender of police officers. Before becoming an attorney, he worked for departments of correction in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

The dialog series was developed in response to the increasingly pressing need to have state and local governments respond to emergent issues on everything from economic devastation to racial justice movements.

The second debate this summer will be “Transportation: Can (and Should) Public Transit Be Free?” on June 23 from 4 to 5 p.m. Two more will be held this fall at dates to be announced: “Housing: Can Rent Control Benefit Both Landlords and Tenants?” and “Education: Elected or Appointed School Boards?”

To learn more about the debate series, go to