Have My Civil Rights Been Violated? An Intro to Civil Rights Cases


civil rights lawyerHave my civil rights been violated?
This is a common question civil rights lawyers are asked by people from all walks of life. If your legally protected rights to equal treatment have been violated under certain circumstances — like in educational settings, work or housing environments, health care situations, or in cases of specific types of violence or misconduct — this constitutes a civil rights violation.

What are some specific examples of civil rights violation?
There are all sorts of civil rights violations, and an expert civil rights attorney can help you to determine whether you have been the victim of such a violation. However, some examples of civil rights violations are more common than others. These include:

  • Sexual harassment in the workplace
  • Racial discrimination when applying for a job or housing
  • Law enforcement misconduct or excessive force related to race, ethnicity, religion, or gender
  • Hate crimes, including threats or violence related to religion, race, sexual orientation, or gender identity
  • Exploitation of immigrant workers
  • Prison abuse

When can I not pursue a civil rights case?
Civil rights cases can be extremely complicated, which is why having a highly qualified Minnesota civil rights attorney is so important. In addition, certain laws are left up to the states, which means that private businesses in one state may be allowed to refuse service to a gay couple, while in other areas, that practice is illegal. In general though, there are some cases where discriminatory actions are technically legal and not a violation of civil rights. If your housing application was rejected because you have pets or you didn’t get a job because you’re a recent college graduate, you might think these actions are discriminatory, but they are not a valid reason to pursue a civil rights violation claim. The landlord may not like dog owners and that employer may not like millennials, but those aren’t grounds to file a suit.

What should I do if my civil rights have been violated?
From 1990 to 2006, 90% of civil rights filings centered around disputes between private parties, rather than state organizations or government factions. This means that most civil rights violations can be resolved relatively quickly. If you think your civil rights have been violated, you do have a few options. One of these options is to settle the dispute through informal negotiations. This is often an advisable choice because it means you won’t have to endure a lengthy court case. The two parties will sit down and decide upon an agreement; typically, they’ll agree to pay you a severance in exchange for you giving up the right to sue.

Another option is to file a state or federal complaint. When you do this, an investigation is usually ordered and the government will likely take action. Essentially, once you file the claim, you won’t have to take any further action yourself, as the government agency will make decisions regarding the case. This can also be performed in conjunction with other options.

Lastly, you can file a private lawsuit. The choice about whether to file a state or a federal case may be up to you and your civil rights lawyer, or it may be decided for you by the way a given law is applied. You may need to file a claim with a government agency prior to filing a private lawsuit. You’ll then get the opportunity to present the facts of your case in court. Your civil rights lawyer will show that the other party should be held responsible for these civil rights violations.

Civil rights violations need to be taken seriously, and action needs to be taken swiftly. If you’re looking for the finest civil rights attorney Minnesota has to offer, contact Gaskins Bennett today.

Excessive Force Lawsuits Explained


excessive forceExcessive force at the hands of a police officer is illegal under the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution. If you believe you have been a victim of police misconduct or have suffered abuse at the hands of a prison guard, read on to learn more about how you can fight for your rights.

The difference between civil and criminal law
Simply put, a civil case is one that takes action against an individual for performing a civil wrong, as opposed to a criminal wrong. Civil rights attorneys use the term “tort” to describe a legal wrongdoing, and most cases involve torts of assault and battery.

The majority of lawsuits against police officers include violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1871. This is the legal statute that outlines that it is illegal for a member of law enforcement to violate another person’s constitutional rights.

Excessive force
In general, police officers have the right to use whatever force they need to in order to arrest someone and protect themselves. Typically, when this type of lawsuit makes it to the courtroom, the judge will ask the jury to consider the force a reasonable person would use under the same circumstances. They also take into consideration if the person was being arrested for a misdemeanor or a felony.

However, this does not give police officers a free pass to take advantage of you or injure you in any way. If you are concerned that you may have been a victim, consider a consultation with prison abuse attorneys to find out your next step.

Some states have qualified immunity statutes, which means that public employees aren’t always held accountable for certain injuries they cause in the line of duty. This is a large problem for those looking to bring civil action against police officers, so if you require extra representation, contact our office today.

If you have been a victim of excessive force, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer. Not only will your rights be protected, but you may be able to bypass the court system as only 4% of all personal injury lawsuits ever go to trial. Call our professionals today if you have any questions.

How to Know You Were a Victim of Police Brutality: A Short Guide


excessive forceThere have been plenty of cases in the media during the past year that have highlighted police brutality, prison abuse, and excessive force. Thanks to social media and smartphones, police abuse of civil liberties can be caught on video and shared around the world, sometimes even as it’s happening. However, it can be difficult to define police misconduct, and the line between use of force and use of excessive force isn’t always clear.

Besides speaking to an excessive force attorney, how do you know if you have a potential civil rights claim? In order to move forward with a police misconduct case, your situation must fall under situations like the following.

False arrest
A very common claim against police officers is false arrest, or when you believe you have been arrested without proper cause. Typically, an arrest occurs when the police officer has probable cause that you have committed a crime; however, “probably cause” can look different to everyone. While the fourth amendment is meant to protect illegal search and seizures, if the officer has any reason to believe a crime may have been committed they can make a legal arrest. Plus, they are able to take someone into their custody even if the crime did not happen in their presence.

In order to accurately prove a false arrest claim, the victim must be able to show that the cop did not have any probable cause or did not follow the proper protocols.

Malicious Prosecution
Malicious prosecution means that the officer denied the victim the right to liberty. This can mean several things:

1. The police officer started their own criminal trial without a judge present.

2. There was no probable cause at the time of the arrest.

3. The proceeding was brought with intent to harm the defendant.

Excessive force
A trial around the use of excessive force relies upon one primary question: if the force was reasonable considering the circumstances. Most cases will be solved by a judge, who will decide if the police officer’s intentions were malicious and if the amount of force used was appropriate for the situation.

What can you do if you were the victim of police misconduct?
Are you a victim of police misconduct? Then consider hiring a police brutality attorney who will fight for your rights in court.

Too often, the U.S. criminal justice system favors the testimony and reputations of police officers over ordinary citizens, and many judges and jury members are reluctant to rule against police officers. However, with the help of excessive force attorneys, you may not need to go to trial at all, as 96% of injury cases and most civil cases are settled pre-trial.

If you have reason to believe your civil rights were violated by a law enforcement agency, then police misconduct attorneys will fight to uphold your civil rights and get the settlement you deserve.

Don’t Believe These 4 Legal Myths About Police Misconduct


police misconductWith all the recent media coverage of police misconduct, there are a lot of myths concerning your individual rights when stopped or arrested by a police officer. In order to prevent misconceptions that can damage your ability to protect yourself from police misconduct, here are four legal myths every citizen should know.

Myth: The police must read you your Miranda rights.

This is a myth that is perpetuated by law enforcement shows and movies, as many people envision a cop physically reading them their rights before being put in handcuffs. In actuality, the Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona that a police officer must let a criminal defendant know what their rights are, but only after they have been arrested.

Myth: You must speak to the police.

Untrue, although police officers are trained to make you feel as though you have to answer their questions. You have the right to remain silent during the entire process. You do not have to speak to the arresting officer if you do not feel comfortable. However, it is important to remember that if you choose to talk you should be completely honest and tell the truth.

Myth: All police use entrapment to get what they want.

One of the most controversial forms of police misconduct is entrapment, which is typically when a member of law enforcement uses coercion to get someone to commit a crime. However, there is a very fine line between legal undercover work and outright entrapment. If you are concerned you have been a victim of police entrapment, make sure to contact an excessive force and police brutality lawyer to represent you.

Myth: Cases always go to trial.

Many defendants believe that if they are arrested, they automatically have to deal with the court system. However, criminal defense lawyers will often meet with prosecutors to develop a plea bargain without the need for a jury trial. Likewise, civil cases rarely go to trial. Only about 4 to 5% of personal injury lawsuits end up before a jury. In the same way, police misconduct attorneys will try to meet with police officials to reach a settlement.

It is important to remember your rights when you are arrested, so keep these myths in mind if you ever find yourself in a bad situation with law enforcement. And, as always, contact civil rights attorneys if you believe your constitutional rights were violated during an encounter with the police.

What Are an Inmate’s Rights While in Prison?


prison abuse attorney
With the recent headlines of police misconduct and brutality all over the news, many questions have been raised concerning the rights of inmates in prison. Even though entering jail does curtail some rights, that does not mean inmates are without human rights. In fact, there have been laws passed in the U.S. Constitution in order to protect inmates rights while in jail. If you or someone you know is going to jail, it is important to fully understand your inmates’ rights in order to be on the look out for potential prison misconduct.

Inmates rights

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

The Eighth Amendment states that every inmate has the right to be free from inhumane treatment while in jail. The Supreme Court has upheld that this includes drawing and quartering, disembowelment, beheading, public dissection, and burning alive.

Sexual harassment and sex crimes

This applies to excessive force put upon you by either another inmate or a member of the prison staff. These acts are taken incredibly seriously in the court system and can carry both civil and criminal sections against those who perform them.

The right to complain about the prison’s conditions and access to the courts

As an inmate, you have the right to voice your concern about your living conditions. You are entitled to a clean, livable space, and if it is not up to standard, any prisoner has the right to make their voice heard. This also includes access to the courts, so if for example your requests are being denied by prison guards, you have the right to enter the court system and speak to a judge.

Medical and mental health care

Prisoners are entitled to receive the same medical and mental health treatment that has been prescribed to them by a doctor. However, the court must deem your treatments reasonable, so if you are on elective medications, then you may not be able to continue.

If you believe that your rights have been violated while in prison, it is important that you contact a prison abuse attorney as soon as possible. These civil rights lawyers specialize in personal injury law and are there to help protect you and to fight for your rights. Hiring a prison abuse attorney will also prevent you from going to court once again, as a full 96% of all personal injury cases are settled pretrial.

Have any questions? Contact our professionals at Gaskins Bennett today.

A Driver’s Rights During a Traffic Stop


police misconductWith the recent cases of police misconduct at traffic stops, more and more Americans are learning to fear — rightly or wrongly — excessive force and brutality on the part of police officers. Even though police officers are here for your protection, it is important to know your rights during a traffic stop. Here are your rights while on the road.

It is illegal to pull you over without probable cause.
Police officers are forbidden from pulling you over randomly. They need a reason — such as speeding, a broken tail light, erratic driving, or seeing you text and drive. However, the initial reason you are pulled over may not be the reason you are issued a ticket. For example, if you are stopped for speeding and the cop finds drugs in your car, they may forgo giving you a citation for speeding while ticketing you for a drug possession charge. This is perfectly legal and will stand up in court, as their write-up of the situation will illustrate the probable cause.

You do not have to pull over immediately.
You should start looking for a safe place to pull over the moment you recognize the cop behind you. But if you are unable to do so safely, it is okay to notify the officer with a hand signal and pull over as soon as possible.

You have the right to stay in your car.
While it is important to follow the officer’s instructions, if you feel unsafe in anyway you have the legal right to stay inside your car. Keep in mind that cops often ask a passenger to leave the car as a safety precaution, for both you and them.

Cops have the right to search your car without a warrant…
…but only under these five reasons:
1. Your spoken consent.
2. Plain view. This means if the cop can see in plain view that you have a gun or drugs out in the open, they have the right to search.
3. Search incident to arrest, meaning if they had probable cause to arrest you, they can go into your car.
4. If the officer has probable cause to suspect a crime.
5. Exigent circumstances in the case that the cop believes the evidence is about to be destroyed.

If you are a victim of police misconduct, it is important to invest in a police brutality lawyer. Police misconduct attorneys are able to defend your rights and save you valuable time within the court system, as only 4% of all personal injury lawsuits ever go to trial.

Don’t be hesitant when it comes to your rights; call an attorney today.

Minorities Are More Likely to Be Pulled Over by Cops, Study Shows


civil rights lawerIn light of the recent racial tensions between cops and minorities nationwide, a new study may have the ability to change how we think about race in the United States.

In a new study published in the BMJ journal Injury Prevention, researchers have found that African Americans and Latinos are just as likely to be victims of police violence as white people. However African American and Latinos — men especially — are more likely to be pulled over, stopped, and questioned by the police.

And the result of this finding? Activists, civil rights lawyers, and angered people nationwide believe that these minority populations, especially men of color, are targets for racial harm at the hands of U.S. law enforcement officers.

Many are familiar with the tragic police shootings of African American men Alton Sterling and Philando Castile earlier in July. Then the country watched in horror as a black man, angered by the shootings of these two men, opened fire on white police officers during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, Texas. These heartbreaking deaths have made activists question law enforcement over deliberate indifference, and to call for change. At the same time, many police officers feel disrespected and taken for granted.

Now, many activists are extremely skeptical of the new study, which seemed to suggest that law enforcement officers were not more likely to behave violently to black or Latino Americans. Also, simulation studies show that officers are are just as likely to fire on an armed person no matter their skin color. Even the researchers cautioned that the results should not be used to discredit claims of racially-motivated police violence.

The researchers wrote in their study, “The excess per-capita death rate of blacks from U.S. police action rightly concerns policy analysts, advocates and the press.” And for those minorities who suspect they are victims to harsher treatment, they added, “the excess appears to reflect exposure” to police, not more violent police tactics during encounters.”

The study analyzed records from every state to calculate a nationwide estimate of police-inflicted injuries and deaths in order to compare and contrast police behavioral patterns.

And according to the Los Angeles Times, “The picture it paints is of police actions that fall more heavily on minority populations, even as police mete out violence evenhandedly. When African Americans or Latinos are stopped and questioned by police, the new research found that police arrested them in 82% to 85% of cases,” far lower than the arrest rate for white Americans.

So what happens if you are a victim of police misconduct, or you have a personal injury law case that is racially motivated? Contacting a civil rights attorney will help you get the compensation you deserve. You may also be able to bypass court altogether, as only 4% of personal injury cases ever go to court, leaving a full 96% settled pretrial.

Remember, you have rights, and if you feel as if they have been taken advantage of, a civil rights lawyer can help.

When it Comes to Police Misconduct, Here is What You Need to Know


Police MisconductNo matter the situation, we all rely on our local police forces to treat us with respect and dignity. Each person who is questioned, arrested, or searched by the police has rights, but it can be hard to remember them in the heat of a stressful moment. So here is what you need to remember and what you need to do if you’re ever stopped by law enforcement.

Your rights

Open communication

If you are arrested, the arresting officer is mandated by law to read you your Miranda rights. These include your right to remain silent, something to take into serious consideration. If you chose to exercise that right, say so out loud. Remember that if you say anything incriminating, it can be held against you if your case ever goes to a trial.

Additionally, you have the right to refuse the search of your person or belongings. The police officers should have probable cause before searching anything, so if you have any questions about their intentions, make yourself heard.

Call your lawyer

If arrested, calling a police misconduct attorney is the best idea, as they will be able to think with a clear mind when you may not be able to. They will be able to prevent the law enforcement officers from asking illegal questions, from using unnecessary force, or taking any other illegal actions.

What to keep in mind

It is important to stay responsible during the entire ordeal. Remember CLIP:

C– remember to stay calm. Do not say or do anything without having a clear mind.

L– do not lie. Even if you work with a personal injury lawyer, they will not be able to take back a lie you have told to a law enforcement official.

I– do not interfere with the police.

P– ensure you prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.

The importance of a personal injury attorney

Personal injury attorneys are able to fight for your rights and deal with any police misconduct. Generally, 96% of all personal injury cases are settled pretrial, with only four percent heading to court. Settling pretrial can mean less of a penalty, lower fees, and more time to get back to your everyday life.

Remember, you have rights. Contacting a trusted, experienced professional is the best way to ensure these rights are implemented properly. Call the experts at Gaskins Bennett Birrell Schupp LLP today.

The Importance of Inmate’s Rights


prison abuse attorneyPrisoners are often forgotten people. They are members of a vulnerable population that are completely dependent on others for basic necessities such as medicines, clothes, and meal times. So, if anything happens to an inmate by a guard, there are not many options.

There have been many cases where prison abuse has gone under the radar. Take for instance the case of Darren Rainey, a mentally ill man who defecated in his cell and refused to pick it up. In retaliation, his prison guards made him stand in a tiny shower cell under scalding hot water for over two hours, resulting in terrible injuries, which he died in 2012.

Or there was the instance of Randall Jordan-Aparo who was a non-violent offender and was murdered by his prison guards in 2010. While serving his time, Jordan-Aparo had a flare up of a rare blood disorder. He pleaded for life-saving medical treatment, but his guards retaliated and threw lethal doses of mustard gas into his cell. He was eventually found dead with his mouth near the bottom of the cell door.

The job of prison abuse attorneys is to make sure that the voiceless can have a voice during these tough times. They specialize in personal injury law, and they are there to make sure a prisoner’s rights is upheld.

So what are a prisoner’s rights?

First off, each prisoner serving time and awaiting sentencing is entitled to be housed in humane conditions. Prisoners also have the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment,and if any treatment goes against a person’s dignity, it can be considered inhumane.

Secondly, they have the right to be free from any sexual advances, sexual crimes, or sexual harassment. An important detail of this includes being able to speak up and voice their concern if they are treated unfairly.

Prisoner’s rights are long and can be complicated to understand if you do not have a proper prison abuse attorney. These injury lawyers are able to fight for the inmate’s rights, and come up with a solution. Usually, when dealing with prison abuse attorneys, only about four percent of lawsuits ever go to trial, with a whopping 96% of cases settling out of court. This is important as settling out of court typically offers more benefits and advantages.

Handling cases that stem from excessive force, police misconduct, or prison abuse, the lawyers at Gaskins Bennett Birrell and Schlupp are experienced professionals that will fight for your rights when no one else will.

What Is Medical Malpractice?


injury attorneyGoing to the doctor is a routine experience. But what happens when you get injured by a professional you trust? Medical malpractice is a large issue in the United States, as 97% of medical malpractice claims are the result of injuries. Shockingly, the Institute of Medicine reports that medical errors lead to 100,000 fatalities every year, fatalities that could be prevented.

There are two different kinds of malpractice.

Negligence is simply when a doctor or a healthcare professional fails to properly execute a treatment successfully. This means the doctor was not careful, which could be anything from not injecting a vaccine into a correct location, or not using sterile equipment.

Gross Negligence
This is the conscious and voluntary disregard to use reasonable care. If a doctor was grossly negligent, the patient has been affected with a serious injury or harm. These doctors have made not just careless mistakes, but have put the patient in grave danger.

Here are some examples of medical malpractice cases.

Alexander Baez
Baez was a body builder and runner up Mr. Universe. He went to a doctor to get pectoral implants, but when he woke up, he realized he was given female breast implants. They were a C-cup in female size. When police found his doctor, they realized this man had no medical credentials, forged documents, and even used kitchen utensils during surgery.

Carol Weihrer
Carol went in for a surgery to remove her eye as to alleviate the chronic pain she experienced. Her doctors used two types of anesthesia, one to paralyze her and the other to put her to sleep. She woke up mid-surgery but was still paralyzed. She could not tell the doctor what she was feeling, but heard him listening to disco music as he performed the surgery. When he realized she was awake, he used more anesthesia which caused a burning sensation all over Carol’s body.

Daryoush Mazarei
Mazarei was left with a 10-inch pair of re-tractor scissors stitched inside him after surgery. He could see the foreign object poke out of his chest, but no doctor would take him seriously and he was recommended psychiatric care. After a month of pain, a CT scan showed the object just below his ribs. He sued the hospital shortly after.

It is safe to say that you do not want to experience medical malpractice. But if you do, make sure to hire an injury attorney. Personal injury law can be complicated, but if you use an injury lawyer you have a higher chance of success as 96% of personal injury cases are settled pretrial. Injury attorneys will get you the settlements you deserve and are able to punish the doctors for their malpractice.

Need an injury attorney? Call Gaskins Bennett Birrell Schupp LLP, to find the best injury lawyer in Minnesota!