The NAACP records a long history of the use of lawsuits to enact social change. For instance, in order to fight Plessy v. Ferguson, lawsuits were filed demanding that facilities provided to black students under “separate but equal laws” be equal to the facilities offered to white students. When states found it difficult to prove that their facilities were in fact equal, great strides in staking down “separate but equal” laws were made.
Today, civil rights activists are likewise fighting discrimination and inequality in civil courts. In response to police brutality cases that have angered the nation and sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, more personal injury lawyers are taking on police brutality cases. According to the International Business Times, personal injury lawyers are helping families seek justice when the police fail to do their jobs. Police misconduct is an umbrella term for a range of violations including false arrest and use of excessive force.
Public distrust of police is at an all-time high. And claims against corrupt police forces are also increasing. Civil rights lawyers often have limited resources, so more individuals are turning to personal injury lawyers in the private sector to defend their cases. While the burden of proof for police misconduct cases remains high, more families are aware of the problem and are willing to fight for their loved one’s rights in court.
Victims are also less frightened to make allegations against the police when misconduct takes place. Individuals who suffer from police misconduct are also more likely to receive community support now than ever before. With the proliferation of cell phones, victims have an easier time capturing police misconduct on video, thus acquiring crucial evidence for their case.
Police testimony is given high credence in court. If it’s your word against an officer’s word, the officer will most likely be believed by a judge. But, with more video evidence out there, police officers are more likely to be caught in their lies when and if they lie.
Police officers also enjoy legal immunity and can only be sued if they clearly violated a person’s civil rights.
Yet, police often have to strike a careful balance between defending communities, protecting themselves, and working within the legal boundaries of the law. According to the New York Times, Chicago has seen an increase in violent crime as distrust in law enforcement has also increased. Some worry that the increase in violence may be tied to the decrease in police stops. Officers have been required to fill out more detailed paperwork when they stop someone to address the accusation that officers were targeting minorities.
Despite these criticisms, police violence and brutality has become more documented now than ever. In order to address racial profiling, unlawful arrest, and brutality, more people have decided to come forward. In response to this, personal injury lawyers in Detroit, Michigan are taking on clients who have been affected by police misconduct.
 
 
 
 
 

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