The Civil Rights Act of 1871 is a federal statute, numbered 42 U.S.C. § 1983, that allows people to sue the government for civil rights violations. It applies when someone acting “under color of” state-level or local law has deprived a person of rights created by the U.S. Constitution or federal statutes. It is often the basis for relief when someone has been the victim of excessive use of force or other police misconduct, ostensibly while under the authority generally vested by the state or municipality. The Qualified Immunity defense in 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims often make them difficult to succeed, in that an element is that the rights were so clearly established that a reasonable officer would have known their conduct was a violation.33 This session of the symposium addressed the following elements of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 litigation: • The Beginning: Client and Forum Assessment, Drafting of the Complaint, identifying available resources, determining whether to join co-counsel and Media • Next Steps: Motions to Dismiss and Understanding Immunities and Pleading Requirements, Discovery (including custom, pattern, policy, and practice, and moving force) and Motions for Summary Judgment • Deciding a Trial Strategy • Jury Selection and Voir Dire (including how to handle jury selection in courts that do not permit voir dire or that permit extremely limited voir dire) • The Trial • Holding onto your Verdict
Bledsoe, Gary; Raveendran, Bhavani; Dunn, Brian; Hoyt, Honorable Ken; and Taylor, Larry
"Panel II Discussion: The Anatomy of 1983 Litigation: Best Practices in Successful Civil Rights Litigation,"
The Bridge: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Legal & Social Policy: Vol. 6
, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalscholarship.tsu.edu/thebridge/vol6/iss1/3