Santa Rosa Section 1983 Lawyer

A Section 1983 lawsuit can be brought against state actors for violations of your civil rights. If you or a loved one believe your civil rights were violated by a state government actor, the Santa Rosa section 1983 lawyer at the Law Office of Kasra Parsad may be able to help you recover financially. We can help with the legal process by answering your claims-related questions and helping you obtain the compensation you deserve.

best personal injury lawyer in the North Bay, Kasra Parsad

What Is A Section 1983 Lawsuit?

Section 1983 refers to lawsuits brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.  Section 1983 provides an individual the right to bring a lawsuit against a state or local government official for violating their civil rights.  Section 1983 provides:

any person who, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage of any State, shall subject, or cause to be subjected, any person within the jurisdiction of the United States to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution of the United States, shall….be liable to the party injured in any action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress…

In simpler terms, Section 1983 gives individuals the right to sue state officers for damages to remedy certain violations of their civil or constitutional rights. It is a procedural statute that gives federal courts jurisdiction to hear civil rights cases against state officials. Our Santa Rosa Section 1983 lawyer can help you have a federal court hear your claim. 

Section 1983 Creates Liability For Violating Civil and Constitutional Rights

Section 1983 cases always include violations of other laws, usually civil rights. Civil rights and liberties are those guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution or certain federal laws. That means a Section 1983 claim cannot be based on rights guaranteed by state law, only federal rights are protected.  Common deprivations of rights that form the basis of Section 1983 lawsuits are:

When Does A State Actor Act “Under Color of Law”?

For a plaintiff to succeed on a Section 1983 claim, they must show the government actor acted under the color of law. When a state official acts with the apparent authority of the state, they act under color of law. In simpler terms, this means the government official must have committed the violation while in their official capacity.  So, for example, a fully uniformed officer making an arrest or a jail guard restraining a prisoner act under the color of state law. A state official can break the law or violate official policy and still maintain the appearance of state action.

In fact, off-duty state officials can act under the color of law if they give the impression they were acting in their official capacity (I.e. off-duty police officers). But working for the state does not automatically mean that a person acts under the color of law. For example, the United States Supreme Court has ruled public defenders cannot be said to act under the color of law because their role is to fight the state’s prosecution. On the other hand, private individuals who are not state employees can act under the color of law if they are in cahoots with government officials to violate a person’s civil rights.

The California state counterpart to a Section 1983 lawsuit is the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act. Unlike Section 1983, a civil rights lawsuit brought under the Bane Act allows a person to bring a civil rights action a government official “whether or not acting under color of law.”

Who Can A Section 1983 Lawsuit Be Brought Against?

A Section 1983 lawsuit can only be brought against state and local officials acting under the color of law. A Section 1983 suit cannot be brought against a federal government official. A federal government official can only be sued under a Bivens claim. State and local government officials that could be subjected to Section 1983 include: 

      • Police officers
      • Prison wardens
      • Sheriff deputies
      • County sheriffs
      • Police chiefs
      • County or state prison guards
      • Probation/parole officers
      • Private citizens working with government officials, and
      • Other public officials

Additionally, if the civil rights violation was the result of a municipality custom or policy, the municipality can be sued too. This includes towns, villages, cities, counties, and municipal programs or departments like local school boards. States, like California, cannot be sued, based on Supreme Court precedent and the 11th Amendment. Our Santa Rosa Section 1983 lawyer will investigate which government actor deprived you of your civil rights and identify any additional actors that could be liable. 

    What Damages Are Available in a Section 1983 Lawsuit?

    If successful, a plaintiff in a Section 1983 suit can recover monetary relief or equitable relief. A Santa Rosa Section 1983 lawyer can help a plaintiff obtain compensatory damages for violations of their civil rights, which include

        • Pain and suffering
        • Reduced earning capacity
        • Lost wages
        • Medical bills
        • Loss of liberty from the civil rights violation, and
        • Possibly attorney’s fees

    The court may also award the plaintiff punitive damages which seek to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from committing future engregious conduct. The court may also award equitable relief in the form of an injunction to stop improper conduct, such as a police department’s use of a chokehold.


    Are Government Actors Protected From Immunity?

    One of, if not the, biggest hurdles a plaintiff faces in a Section 1983 lawsuit is the defense of immunity. Overcoming the qualified immunity hurdle is critical in police misconduct cases. Law enforcement almost always claims this doctrine the moment they are sued. Convincing a judge they are immune from the lawsuit will result in the case being dismissed, causing the victim to recover nothing for the violation of their civil rights. Immunity can be absolute or qualified.

    Absolute Immunity

    Some government actors have absolute immunity from Section 1983 lawsuits for monetary damages. State officials who have absolute immunity include:

    Qualified Immunity

    State and local officials who do not enjoy absolute immunity are entitled to qualified immunity. The doctrine of qualified immunity protects state and local officials from individual liability so long as they did not violate a (1) victim’s rights and (2) those rights were so “clearly established” that a reasonable official would have known their conduct was a violation.

    A “clearly established” right seems straightforward, but it is frequently debated. The rule of thumb, so to say, seems to mean that, at the time of the government actor’s conduct, the law was sufficiently clear that every reasonable official in the same position would understand what they were doing was unlawful or unconstitutional. To overcome qualified immunity, a Section 1983 plaintiff must show that the U.S. Supreme Court or a federal appeals court within the same jurisdiction previously ruled that the same conduct under similar circumstances was unconstitutional or unlawful. If there is no decision, unfortunately, qualified immunity protects officials by default.

    California’s state civil rights act, the Bane Act, use to allow officers to assert the defense of qualified immunity. That is no longer the case. Senate Bill 2, signed into law on September 30, 2021, eliminates the qualified immunity defense for government actors. That means law enforcement officers, prison guards, and other government employees can no longer raise a qualified immunity defense in defending a Bane Act Claim.

    How Can a Santa Rosa Section 1983 Lawyer Help?

    “Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as the abuses of power.” – James Madison

    At our firm, we believe you and your family should not have to accept a deprivation of your civil rights at the hand of the government. You and your loved ones deserve justice, answer, closure, and the right compensation when the government violates your civil rights. The Law Office of Kasra Parsad can help explain the requirements and guide you throughout the process. As soon as possible, you’ll want to contact our Santa Rosa civil rights attorney to assess your options. You never know how a competent lawyer may be able to help you, so there is nothing to lose by getting in touch with our office. Our complimentary consultation comes at no cost and we work diligently on your behalf.

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