Seth Stoughton
Seth Stoughton

Seth Stoughton is an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he is affiliated with the Rule of Law Collaborative. He studies policing and how it is regulated, and his scholarship has appeared in the Minnesota Law Review, the North Carolina Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, and other top journals. He has written multiple book chapters and is the principal co-author of Evaluating Police Uses of Force (forthcoming from NYU Press in spring 2020). He is a frequent lecturer on policing issues, regularly appears on national and international media, and has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, TIME, and other news publications. He teaches Police Law & Policy, Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law, and the Regulation of Vice.

Seth served as an officer with the Tallahassee Police Department for five years. In that time, he trained other officers, helped write policies to govern the use of new technologies, earned multiple instructor and operator certifications, and taught personal safety and self-defense courses in the community. In 2004, he received a Formal Achievement Award for his role as a founding member of the Special Response Team. After leaving the police department, Seth spent three years as an Investigator in the Florida Department of Education's Office of Inspector General, where he handled a variety of criminal and administrative investigations. In 2008, he received a statewide award for his work combating private school tuition voucher fraud.

Seth earned his B.A. in English from Florida State University. He attended the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was an Articles Editor on the Virginia Law Review, an Elsie Hughes Cabell Scholar, and the recipient of the Thomas Marshall Miller Prize. After law school, he clerked for the Honorable Kenneth F. Ripple of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Prior to joining the faculty at South Carolina, Seth was a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, where he taught legal writing and a Regulation of Vice seminar.

Columns by Seth Stoughton
The Unnecessary Protection of Qualified Immunity

UCLA law professor Joanna C. Schwartz and South Carolina law professor Seth W. Stoughton address some of the arguments commonly asserted to support qualified immunity, the doctrine that shields police officers from civil liability for constitutional violations. Schwartz and Stoughton argue that eliminating qualified immunity should not affect police decision-making and that existing Supreme Court doctrine gives police officers plenty of leeway to make mistakes without violating the Constitution. Because qualified immunity applies only to unreasonable actions by police officers, eliminating or substantially restricting it should not a chilling effect on police officers’ ability or willingness to respond to critical incidents.

What Would a Better Ferguson Response Have Looked Like?

Guest columnist and University of South Carolina School of Law professor Seth Stoughton discusses the police response in Ferguson, Missouri, and explains ways the situation could have been handled better. Stoughton argues that any confrontation between officers and citizens should be handled with the long-term relationship between the police and the community in mind.

Marijuana Legalization Regimes and the Evolving Fourth Amendment

Guest columnist and University of South Carolina law professor Seth Stoughton comments on the shifting marijuana laws throughout the United States and the implications for Fourth Amendment doctrine. Stoughton explains how marijuana laws in the United States have changed over time describes the resulting doctrinal uncertainty. He focuses specifically on the Fourth Amendment’s “automobile exception” in cases involving marijuana calls for legislatures and judges to clarify how police practices should be updated.