Those who work in positions of governmental authority have an obligation to the public. They must comply with the law and ensure that they uphold the basic rights of the people they serve. Government authority figures, including those who work at regulatory agencies and law enforcement professionals, should never let their career goals or emotions push them into actions that violate the civil rights of others.
Unfortunately, even if you do your best to perform your job successfully while still respecting others, you may eventually find yourself accused of violating the civil rights of others. What are some of the main reasons that people bring lawsuits against public servants and law enforcement officers?
1. Claims of corruption
A plaintiff bringing a civil rights violation lawsuit against an official or regulatory agency worker might allege corruption. They could claim that you accepted bribes, unfairly enforced regulations differently at different businesses or let your personal biases affect your job performance.
They could even accuse you of nepotism if you don’t have a relationship with them but they know someone in your social circle. Someone who claims that a public official violated their civil rights may try to prove that they abuse their authority or otherwise violated the law when making a determination that affected that individual or their business operations.
2. Complaints of improper searches
The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from inappropriate searches and seizures. Some people will try to leverage the Fourth Amendment to bring a lawsuit against police officers who search their person, their home or their vehicle in a manner that they claim violated their rights.
There have historically also been lawsuits related to questioning well in police custody, but the Supreme Court recently entered a ruling effectively ending those lawsuits against officers and police departments.
3. Allegations of excessive force
Police officers may find themselves accused of becoming unnecessarily aggressive toward someone that they needed to detain. People may make accusations of unnecessary force or police brutality based on either the injuries that someone suffered in an interaction with law enforcement or what they allege happened during the encounter.
Defenses against such claims will vary depending on the circumstances and may include reviewing your professional history or showing documentation that someone’s injuries occurred later, possibly because they are self-inflicted.
No single defense strategy works for every official or police officer facing accusations of a civil rights violation. Learning more about civil rights claims and successful defense strategies in similar scenarios can help you plan for your day in civil court.