Portland Civil Rights Attorney
Police officers and other government employees are supposed to protect us and work to uphold our rights as residents of Oregon and the United States. The United States Constitution and the Oregon Constitution provide a number of express civil rights that should apply equally to all. Unfortunately, there are many instances in which government employees violate the civil rights of one or more individuals. Many people who suffer harm at the hands of police or government actors may feel powerless in this situation and may not know where to turn. It is important to know that there are laws that give you the right to take action if you are the victim of a civil rights violation.
Civil rights cases are never simple. Always realize that there are attorneys who fully understand your rights under the law and know how to fight for the relief you deserve. The attorneys at the Richard Rizk Law Office are committed to upholding the civil rights of people in and around Portland, so please do not hesitate to call our office to discuss a possible case.
Section 1983 Claims
State and local governments have laws in place that protect government agencies from legal claims from citizens. These sovereign immunity laws essentially prevent you from filing a lawsuit against the government without the government’s consent. This would mean that someone who had their civil rights violated by a police or correctional officer would not have the right to hold the officer or agency accountable for the harm they suffered.
Fortunately, there is a law that specifically allows a private citizen to bring a civil action against someone who violated the citizen’s constitutional or federally-mandated rights while the violator was acting under the color of state or local law. Such state and local actors include police, correctional officers, prosecutors, and others with authority to act as a representative of state or local law.
The law, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, commonly known as “Section 1983,” has been the basis for many lawsuits arising from police brutality and other forms of misconduct. Plaintiffs can seek damages for any medical expenses or other financial losses, as well as physical pain, emotional distress, and similar intangible losses. Claims under Section 1983 are complicated and have specific procedures that must be followed. In order to have the best chance at success in protecting your rights, you should always have the right law firm handling your claim against a government actor.
Many civil rights claims stem from different types of police misconduct. Police are supposed to uphold the law and work for public safety. Despite all their training in how to comply with laws, policies, and procedures to protect the rights of citizens, we constantly read headlines reporting that police officers have acted wrongfully. This has especially been a growing problem in the Portland area in recent years.
Police misconduct can come in many forms and involves any unlawful or ill-appropriated behavior while officers are on duty. The following are some common acts of police misconduct that regularly cause harm to citizens:
- Acts of discrimination
- Racial profiling
- Police brutality
- Use of excessive force, including deadly force
- Unlawful search and seizure
- Wrongful arrest
- Coercing false confessions
- Wrongful convictions
When you think of a police misconduct case in this day and age, you likely think of police shooting unarmed individuals or using unnecessary force on protesters. However, misconduct cases can also involve other situations, such as an officer tampering with evidence that leads to a false conviction or an unjustified arrest without a warrant.
No matter what type of misconduct you believed occurred in your situation, please consult with a member of our legal team to discuss your options as soon as you can.
Failure to Provide Medical Treatment
Some people are under the misconception that people who are incarcerated do not have civil rights. However, the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution specifically gives everyone the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Under this Amendment, prisoners and those in police custody should not suffer from harm or mistreatment, which includes withholding access to proper medical care when needed.
If a prisoner had a medical need that was ignored, serious harm can result. They can suffer needless complications or life-threatening conditions. Some prisoners can experience extreme pain and suffering if they have an injury or illness that is not treated. If you or an incarcerated loved one was denied medical care they needed, it likely constitutes a violation of their civil rights. We can help you seek financial recovery for the harm suffered.
Prisoner Wrongful Death
It is always difficult when a loved one is in jail or prison. Your family is separated and you may wonder if they are being mistreated. It can be devastating to then learn that your loved one has died while in custody. It is easy to feel helpless in this tragic situation, though know that our compassionate attorneys are ready to help.
While some prisoners die of natural causes, many other deaths are due to the negligence or wrongdoing of the correctional officers or staff. There are many potential causes of wrongful death in prison, including:
- Denial of medical care
- Denial of psychiatric care leading to suicide
- Alcohol or drug withdrawal (including prescription drugs)
- Asphyxia or suffocation from wrongful restraints
- Excessive force by correctional officers
- Allowing excessive force by other prisoners
If you have lost a loved one who was in prison, we can determine whether you can take action and recover for wrongful death.
Do Not Wait to Call a Portland Civil Rights Lawyer Today
The experienced civil rights attorneys at the Richard Rizk Law Office have seen many harmful civil rights violations and are dedicated to holding government actors in Portland responsible for their wrongful actions. If you believe you were deprived of your rights, please call (503) 245-5677 or contact us online to discuss what happened so we can evaluate your options under the law.