Civil Rights Litigation, Generally: News and Publications

NYC Pays 450K Settlement to Prisoner Assaulted by Rikers Guards

On August 31, 2015, New York City agreed to pay a $450,000 settlement to Robert Hinton, who in 2012 was subjected to a brutal beating by five corrections officers and their captain in a solitary confinement unit for men classified as mentally ill at the Rikers Island jail complex. The aggressors beat Hinton's face so severely that his nose was broken and his eyes swollen shut; after their attempts to cover up the beating did not meet with success, they were fired this past January.

California Settlement Ends Indeterminate Solitary Confinement Statewide

On Tuesday, September 1, 2015, a settlement was reached in the federal class action Ashker v. Governor of California brought on behalf of prisoners held in long term solitary confinement at California's Pelican Bay prison. Prior to the settlement, state prisoners could be subjected to an indeterminate term of solitary confinement based solely on their identification as gang affiliates.

$1.1M Settlement for Los Angeles Plaintiffs in Car Dwelling Suit

On August 19, the Los Angeles City Council approved a $1.1 million settlement to resolve a lawsuit filed in support of four homeless people cited and arrested in 2010 during an area crackdown on people living in their cars.

The 1983 city law providing the legal basis for the crackdown specified that "no person shall use a vehicle parked or standing upon any City street or upon any parking lot owned by the City of Los Angeles ... as living quarters either overnight, day-by-day, or otherwise."

Section 1983 Litigation: The Maze, the Mud, and the Madness

Karen Blum
Suffolk University Law School, reproduced with the permission of the publisher and author.

The major analytical and practical failures of Section 1983 jurisprudence as it has been shaped by the Supreme Court since the watershed case of Monroe v. Pape. There is a growing consensus among practitioners, scholars, and judges that Section 1983 is no longer serving its original and intended function as a vehicle for remedying violations of constitutional rights, that it is broken in many ways, and that it is sorely in need of repairs.

Can I Sue the Police? Rhode Island §1983 Guide

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Rhode Island

What this booklet seeks to do is to let you know how the law works when someone sues the police. For the most part, it describes the federal law known as “Section 1983” that allows people to sue some government bodies and officials who work for the government. It creates what is called a “cause of action” that allows you to sue if certain official behavior has hurt you in a way that has deprived you of certain civil rights.

When you finish reading this brochure, you should know more than when you started about:

• How §1983 was created and what it’s meant to do;
• What kind of situations the law might be able to address;
• Who you might be able to sue, and who can’t be sued;
• The biggest obstacles to winning a case under §1983;
• A general idea of what happens when you sue under §1983, and
• What kind of help, or “remedies” in legal-speak, you might get if you win.

Simplified Pleading, Meaningful Days in Court, and Trials on the Merits: Reflections on the Deformations of Federal Procedure

Arthur R. Miller
Copyright 2013 by Arthur R. Miller, reprinted with permission from the author

When the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were promulgated in 1938, they reflected a policy of citizen access for civil disputes and sought to promote their resolutions on the merits rather than on the basis of the technicalitties that characterized earlier procedural systems.  However, the last quarter century has seen a dramatic contrary shift in the way the federal courts, especially the U.S. Supreme Court, have interpreted and applied the Federal Rules and other procedural matters.  The author examines the significant manifestations of this dramatic change and argues that it is necessary to restore some of the earlier underlying philosophy of the Federal Rules if we are to preserve the procedural principles that should underlie our civil justice system and maintain the viability of private litigation as an adjunct to government regulation for the enforcement of important societal policies and values.