Civil Rights / Police Brutality
Scottsdale Civil Rights Attorney
The most common cases we handle in our civil rights division include: police brutality/excessive force, false imprisonment, wrongful arrest, illegal search and seizure and discrimination. Civil rights cases involve the abuse of power or authority by someone in government or performing a governmental function. When someone is working for the government, whether it be local or federal, they can be said to be acting under “color of law.” Someone acting under color of law is prohibited from violating certain rights guaranteed to individuals by the United States Constitution and its Amendments.
The Amendments to the United States Constitution set forth certain individual civil rights. These include:
First Amendment-Right to free speech and religion
Fourth Amendment-Right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and excessive force
Fifth Amendment-Right to due process
Eighth Amendment-Right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment
Fourteenth Amendment-Right to be free from certain forms of discrimination (race, religion, national origin, sex)
If a state or local government actor violates any of the above rights, they may be subject to a civil rights lawsuit by way of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This federal statute allows for a victim to file suit against a local or state actor for these violations. The statute is powerful because if a victim succeeds in advancing a claim under it, his or her attorney may be awarded attorney fees. This allows attorneys to take on even minor violations of civil rights as they will have the opportunity to be fully compensated for the work they perform if they prevail.
One of the primary functions of government is to create laws and enforce them. However, “power attracts the corruptible.” Those who are not qualified to be in positions of power, often find themselves there. Once there, they are incapable of resisting the temptations of abuse. Thankfully, there is a powerful check to government and those who are ill-suited for it. That check is a lawsuit and an individual’s right to sue governmental entities and employees. These may include:
- Government Officers
- Local Government Boards
- Sheriff Departments and their Deputies
- Police Departments and their Officers
- Prisons and Departments of Correction
- Correctional Officers and Prison Officials
- State Government Entities
- County Government Entities
- Anyone Acting Under “the color of law”
Once a lawsuit is filed, the government is no different than any other party in a court of law. Once there, the government is on an equal playing field and must answer for what it does or did. If the government and its employees acted improperly and abused their power, they may be held to task and forced to answer for those violations.
Ultimately, a civil rights lawsuit is about one thing — correcting a wrong and holding someone who abused his or her power accountable. It is about chopping a giant down and proving that no one is above the law. Often times, it is the principle of preventing injustice by an abuse of power, more than it is about the injury itself.
Our firm wholeheartedly believes that every person has certain unalienable rights that are sacred. These include the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This also includes the right to be free from unjust discrimination and the right to equal protection under the laws of the State of Arizona and the United States. If someone violates these rights, we will fight to hold that person accountable. We have a track record of prevailing in complicated and challenging civil rights cases. Contact our firm today to speak to a Scottsdale injury attorney about your potential civil rights case.