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Civil Rights

Kassouni Law represents clients on a wide variety of civil rights and Constitutional matters. The firm represents clients who have had their civil rights violated.

The United States rightly prides itself on the Constitutional and statutory protection of basic civil liberties. These include freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and the entitlement to just compensation for a taking of private property.

In 1964, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act. Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act was designed to grant individuals a private cause of action for violation of civil liberties. These claims can be brought against local counties and cities, as well as individual government employees.

In many instances, individual government employees exceed the bounds of the law in aggressively targeting individual citizens whom they believe are in violation of criminal or civil laws. The most common example–one which usually makes the evening news–is a police officer who uses excessive force in conjunction with an arrest.

However, many other actions can give rise to civil rights violations. For example, the government is required to obtain a civil inspection warrant before entering and inspecting private property for alleged permit violations. The United States Supreme Court in Camara v. Municipal Court held that a violation of this warrant requirement is a civil rights violation:

It is surely anomalous to say that the individual and his private property are fully protected by the Fourth Amendment only when the individual is suspected of criminal behavior…For instance, even the most law-abiding citizen has a very tangible interest in limiting the circumstances under which the sanctity of his home may be broken by official authority, for the possibility of criminal entry under the guise of official sanction is a serious threat to personal and family security.”

Civil Rights cases are not easy to win, and the plaintiff has a heavy burden in proving that the government employee acted unreasonably under the circumstances.

Qualified Immunity

Government employees have a defense called “qualified immunity.” Under this defense, the case will be dismissed unless it can be shown that the government employee’s actions went far beyond reasonable conduct under the circumstances. It is therefore crucial for an attorney to provide sound advice to a client before commencing litigation.

If successful, the plaintiff in a civil rights case can recover compensatory damages, punitive damages for particularly egregious conduct, and attorney’s fees. The plaintiff is always entitled to a jury trial. As these kinds of cases can be complex and lengthy, it is very important for a potential plaintiff to understand the merit and length of litigation before filing the lawsuit.

When dealing with a civil rights legal matter, it’s important to get trusted advice on the merits of the case. At the Sacramento and Los Angeles offices of Kassouni Law the civil rights attorneys give honest, straightforward advice to all clients. After analyzing each client’s legal matter, the attorneys will be pleased to assess your rights and remedies and help you form a plan of action to obtain positive results.

Equal Protection Under the Law