Governmental Liability, Police Liability, Section 1983 Claims
Mississippi Civil Rights Lawyers
Under both Mississippi and Tennessee law, governmental entities (cities, counties, and state agencies) and their agents/employees are in large part protected from lawsuits based upon certain immunities provided to them by statute—more specifically the Mississippi and Tennessee Tort Claim Acts. However, there are certain exceptions to the general rule that must be thoroughly explored by an attorney that fully understands this area of the law.
There may also be federal claims available to an aggrieved citizen pursuant to certain provisions of the United States Constitution, as well as other federal statutes (Example: 42 U.S.C. § 1983). These federal laws are meant to protect ordinary citizens from the unlawful use of excessive force by government officials (jailors, police officers, etc.), as well as offer protection against the government’s unreasonable search and seizure of their home or person.
While most of us have at least some knowledge of what civil rights are, many do not fully understand the expansive set of rights designed to protect us from unfair treatment. Civil rights are, in essence, the rights of each of us to be free from unfair treatment and discrimination in a number of specific settings—public accommodations, the workplace, housing, and education, to name a few.
The very term “civil rights” can cause intense feelings that go to the very heart of our morality as a nation. The “Civil Rights Movement” historically referred to the efforts to achieve equality for African Americans, but today, civil rights encompass equality for all, regardless of religion, national origin, disability, age, sex, race, or certain other characteristics.
While the majority of laws that guarantee and regulate our civil rights come from the federal government, there are also certain state laws that guarantee and regulate civil rights. Federal legislation that guarantees each human being his or civil rights include:
- The prohibition of housing discrimination comes in the form of the Fair Housing Act.
- The prohibition of discrimination based on age for programs and activities receiving federal assistance comes from the Age Discrimination Act of 1975.
- Further prohibition of discrimination based on age in the workplace comes from the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1975.
- The prohibition of discrimination for those participating in elections comes from the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals who are receiving federal financial assistance.
- Perhaps the most far-reaching legislation which prohibits discrimination based on national origin, sex, religion, color, or race in areas such as public accommodations, the workplace, voting, and education is the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of any real or perceived disability as far as employment, state and local government, commercial facilities, telecommunications, transportation, and public accommodations.
Civil rights may also come from federal court decisions, such as Brown v. Board of Education, and states can pass their own civil rights laws—although state laws are almost always close to those at the federal level. State laws may be more protective of civil rights than federal equivalents but cannot be less protective. Certain cities, counties, or municipalities across the nation have put protections into place for those who identify as LGBTQ.
It is important to note that civil rights are not the same as civil liberties. Civil rights allow individuals to be free from discrimination based on certain protected characteristics. Civil liberties, on the other hand, are much broader-based rights and freedoms guaranteed by federal laws and the Constitution (the right to privacy, the right to free speech, the right to vote, etc.) Stroud, Flechas & Dalton assists those who have had either their civil rights or their civil liberties violated.
Types of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Violations Handled by Stroud, Flechas & Dalton
At The Stroud, Flechas & Dalton, we have a strong reputation for aggressively pursuing civil rights claims on behalf of our injured clients against government agencies. We have handled numerous claims, such as:
- Police misconduct, including the use of excessive force by arresting officers, the death of an inmate in a Mississippi jail, inadequate suicide policies and procedures in jail facilities, inadequate “use of force” policies and procedures for jail facilities, unlawful arrest and detention of law-abiding citizens.
- Law enforcement’s abuse of power
- Wrongful or unlawful search and seizure
- Police excessive force claims
- Police K9 dog bite claims
- Jailor excessive force claims
- Improper use of TASER or other weapon—resulting in injury or death
- Section 1983 claims
- Failure to enact adequate suicide prevention policies
- Failure to provide medical care in jails or detention facilities
- False arrest and imprisonment of innocent citizens, including the use of excessive force, placing a citizen under false arrest, warrantless searches or arrests, assault upon a citizen, forcing a citizen to have sexual relations in return for not arresting them or not giving them a ticket, Violations of a citizen’s civil rights, engaging in fraud or theft, or an unlawful murder.
- High-speed police chases resulting in injury or death
- Jailor misconduct and sexual abuse of inmates
- School bus or government vehicle accidents
- Civil rights violations
What are Violations of the First Amendment?
The First Amendment guarantees the right to free expression, as well as the right to assemble peaceably. The First Amendment also guarantees certain religious freedoms as well as the right to petition. In 2015, a First Amendment case in the state of Mississippi was filed against the City of Jackson Police Department for ongoing, blatant violations of free speech rights, particularly those of pro-life advocates. In Ferguson, Missouri, citizens were told they could not stand still while peacefully protesting and could not stop walking for more than five seconds. Reporters were tear-gassed and jailed, and photographers were ordered to stop taking pictures—all blatant violations of the First Amendment.
What are Violations of the Fourth Amendment?
The Fourth Amendment guarantees freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, meaning law enforcement must have probable cause and a warrant to search your person or your belongings. There must be sufficient evidence to convince a reasonable person that a crime has been committed to obtain a warrant. Although the right to privacy is not specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, through the years, the Fourth Amendment and the Ninth Amendment have been interpreted as protecting privacy in certain situations.
What are Violations of the Eighth Amendment?
You are protected under the Eighth Amendment from excessive bail requirements, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishment. As an example, in a 1962 California case (Robinson v. California), Robinson was arrested because a police officer thought he saw injection marks on Robinson’s arms. Robinson was subsequently jailed for 90 days—a sentence that was deemed to be a violation of Robinson’s Eighth Amendment right to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. In 2015, a federal judge in Jackson, Mississippi, temporarily blocked the state from using two execution drugs because the prisoners claimed there was a high risk of excruciating pain from the drugs. The court found that such pain violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment.
What are Violations of the Fourteenth Amendment?
The Fourteenth Amendment addresses the rights of citizens and certain aspects of citizenship. “Equal protection of the laws” figures prominently in many landmark decisions, including Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, Bush v. Gore, and Reed. V. Reed. The Fourteenth Amendment expressly prohibits states from violating an individual’s rights of due process and equal protection.
How Stroud, Flechas & Dalton Can Help
If your civil rights or your civil liberties have been violated, or if you have been a victim of police misconduct, the highly experienced attorneys at Stroud, Flechas & Dalton can help. We represent those whose rights have been violated or who have been a victim of discrimination. We aggressively pursue justice for victims of police misconduct and are dedicated to helping our clients secure equitable damages for civil rights violations and civil liberties violations. Whether you are the victim of police brutality, a wrongful conviction, an unlawful arrest, an unlawful search and seizure, or you have suffered discrimination, contact Stroud, Flechas & Dalton.