Civil Rights Law
Civil rights litigation generally focuses on the deprivation of those inalienable rights that are secured for the People by the People through the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
In order to be actionable, these deprivations must occur "under color of law". In its simplest form, this usually involves state actors that utilize their offices for improper purposes. These actions involve federal questions and are therefore generally litigated in federal court.
Many civil rights cases tend to focus on the pervasive immunity generally enjoyed by governmental officials. This immunity is usually divided into two distinct sub-categories: absolute immunity and qualified immunity. These immunities have been fashioned in an attempt to protect the proper functioning of our government; as a general rule, the government cannot properly function if those who staff its ranks must constantly worry about whether or not they may be sued for their official conduct.
While the current state of civil rights law tends to favor the government, the presumption of immunity is necessarily piercable through fact-intensive exceptions. This presumption, however, leads to many civil rights verdicts in favor of Plaintiffs being exposed to the appeals process. Thus, it is extremely important to select skilled counsel with the commitment, ability, and resources to protect these all-important rights; not only will this familiarity with the substantive law generally inure to the direct benefit of a Plaintiff, but it can foreseeably encourage Defendants to offer a reasonable settlement in a timely manner.
Representative civil rights cases include actions against:
- law enforcement officers, a prosecuting attorney, and a judge in a rural Texas community based on a warrantless search;
- police officers and the city that employs them based (1) on a warrantless entry into a residence, (2) excessive force to effect an arrest, and (3) the officers' efforts to unconstitutionally restrict the citizenry's right to bear arms; and
- a county for the murder of a vulnerable inmate in their custody.
Additionally, we also have experience with matters involving:
- warrantless searches/arrests;
- freedom of speech;
- the Americans with Disabilities Act;
- grand juries;
- confidential informants;
- inadequate prison medical care;
- due process; and
- cruel and unusual punishment.