Section 1983 Civil Rights Lawsuit
The US Constitution guarantees everyone certain civil rights in America. If someone is deprived of these rights, then they can file a civil rights lawsuit. 42 US Code Section 1983 laws out the procedure for filing a civil rights lawsuit.
Civil Rights Lawsuit: What Does Section 1983 Say?
When you plan to file a civil rights lawsuit, you should read US Code Section 1983 to get an understanding of the law. However, here we will provide a short summary that will help you file a civil rights lawsuit.
Who can file a civil rights lawsuit?
- US citizens
- Anyone in the jurisdiction of the US
Who can be named in a civil rights lawsuit?
Anyone who has power over other people that is granted because of their official standing. The only exception is a judicial officer who was acting in their judicial capacity – they can only be sued if they committed a violation of the declaratory decree.
How can I seek remedy?
- An action at law
- Suit in equity
- Through government agencies that deal with specific types of rights violations.
Sovereign Immunity in Civil Rights Lawsuits
Following the 1793 Supreme Court case of Chisolm v. Georgia, the 11th Amendment was passed to give states sovereign immunity, meaning civil rights lawsuits are prohibited against states.
However, there have been a number of Supreme Court cases against states for constitutional violations since. So the 11th Amendment does not completely disallow the practice of suing states. Section 1983 is usually used as an argument in a civil rights lawsuit against a state because it allows people to initiate lawsuits against states and their agents
The History of Section 1983
Section 1983 was passed in 1871, but its first use was in the 1961 case of Monroe v. Pape. In this case, the Supreme Court gave the following three uses of Section 1983:
- To override state laws
- To provide remedies when state laws do not
- To provide a federal remedy when state laws provide a remedy that is not applicable to the case
Since 1961, Section 1983 has been used in many civil rights lawsuits against state actors and municipal entities. It has been used against:
- Correctional officers
- Police officers
- Municipal officials
- Municipal entities
- State officials
- Private parties who are given legal power
Requirements For a Section 1983 Civil Rights Lawsuit
To use Section 1983 to apply for legal remedy in a civil rights lawsuit, the claimant must prove a number of things.
First, that the person who violated their rights was acting “under color of law.” This means that they had legal power over the person or was acting in an official capacity given by law.
In the 1975 Supreme Court case Cort v. Ash, the Supreme Court established a four-part test for when a plaintiff may seek assistance from federal courts against a state or its agents. These are applied to civil rights lawsuits as well.
- The claimant is a member of the class that the statute was enacted to benefit
- There is evidence of intent to find a private remedy
- Congress’s statute of intent and the right to sue match up
- The claim includes an action that is not usually under state jurisdiction.
A Section 1983 civil rights lawsuit must meet all of the above requirements.
Seek The Help of An Attorney to Understand Section 1983 Civil Rights Lawsuits
If you want to know if you can file a civil rights lawsuit under section 1983, contact a criminal defense attorney. They will be able to see if you can establish the required elements to file your civil rights lawsuit or if there is an alternative course of action available to you. Without legal assistance, your case may fail before you can even seek remedy.
Call Nakase Wade criminal defense lawyers for advice and assistance for your civil rights lawsuit.