Civil Rights/Constitutional Law

We vigorously represent clients whose civil rights have been violated. Under state and federal law, you have the right to be treated fairly and without discrimination or abuse by prosecutors, police officers and other public agencies and officials. We litigate our cases in both state and federal court, and frequently bring actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. If you believe your civil rights have been violated, an experienced civil rights attorney can explain your legal options. Some of the more common civil rights cases include:

Police Misconduct: A large portion of our practice is devoted to vindicating the rights of those who have been victimized by abusive police misconduct. “Police misconduct” is a broad term encompassing the following:

First Amendment: Our firm regularly handles First Amendment claims to ensure that the right to free speech is not abridged. The First Amendment guarantees a variety of civil liberties and restricts the government from interfering with freedom of speech, the free exercise of religion, the right of privacy, the freedom to assemble, the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, and further guarantees the separation of church and state. If you believe that your or your company’s First Amendment rights have been abridged, you should contact an attorney experienced in this field right away.

Prisoners’ Rights: We are committed to contesting improper treatment of prisoners in New York City jails and New York State correctional facilities. All civil proceedings arising under federal law that seek monetary damages and challenge either the conditions of confinement or effects of actions by governmental officials on the lives of persons confined in a prison, jail, or juvenile detention facility are governed by the Prison Litigation Reform Act. This Act requires, among other things, that no action under federal law may be brought by an incarcerated individual until all available administrative remedies have been exhausted. If you or a loved one has a claim arising out of the conditions of incarceration or abuse by prison or jail officials, you must contact an experienced attorney at once to ensure your rights are protected.

Unjust Conviction: Our firm represents those who have been wrongfully convicted in state and federal courts for crimes which they did not commit. The New York State Court of Claims Act § 8-b – also known as The Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act of 1984 – allows wrongfully convicted defendants who have served all or part of their sentence to seek compensation from the State if certain requirements have been met. To be able to recover damages against the State, a defendant must show that his or her conviction was overturned on one of certain enumerated procedural grounds, and must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that he or she did not commit any of the acts charged in the accusatory instrument (or that the acts charged did not constitute a crime) and that the defendant’s own conduct did not cause or bring about the conviction. Given the pitfalls and procedural hurdles in such cases, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced attorney if you have a potential claim for unjust conviction.

Involuntary Civil Commitment: Involuntary civil commitment laws provide for the forceful detention and commitment to an institution by judicial means of persons with mental illnesses who meet certain further criteria. As the U.S. Supreme Court declared in Vitek v. Jones, involuntary commitment to a mental hospital entails “a massive curtailment of liberty.” If you believe that you or your loved one has been wrongfully committed, you must immediately seek the advice of an experienced attorney.

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