Looking for a Police Misconduct Attorney in Albuquerque? Learn more here about qualified immunity and the New Mexico Civil Rights Act here.
Historically it has been very difficult to hold police officers accountable when they violate the rights of New Mexicans.
Suit can be brought in some circumstances under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act. This law allows lawsuits against the police in certain limited circumstances and has several disadvantages for Plaintiffs including a statutory limitation on damages and a ninety (90) day time period to provide a written notice of claim.
It has always been possible to sue under Federal Civil Rights Law for violations of Civil Rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States. If an officer violates your civil rights by using excessive force, arresting you without probable cause, or seizing your property without a warrant this conduct violates the protections we all enjoy under the 4th Amendment.
However, federal judges created out of thin air a legal defense to constitutional claims that tends to protect police officers from civil liability in all but the most egregious civil rights violations. This judicially created defense requires that the injured person in most cases find cases with nearly identical fact patterns.
This doctrine is known as Qualified Immunity and provides a significant challenge to Plaintiff’s due to the level of factual similarity required to meet the clearly established law requirement of the Qualified Immunity defense.
This defense applies to even the most blatant of civil rights violations. For instance in Latits v. Phillips, 878 F.3d 541, 552 (6th Cir. 2017) a police officer violated his own department’s procedure by using a high risk ramming technique to end a chase, ran up to the injured person’s car, and shot him dead as the injured party reversed his car. No police officer was in front of or behind the car as shots were fired.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals held that Latits 4th amendment rights were violated and that the police officer had unreasonably used deadly force. The Court still granted the police officer qualified immunity because there was no case with identical facts even though cases existed with very similar but not identical fact patterns.
New Mexico has recently passed a civil rights law under the New Mexican Constitution, the New Mexico Civil Rights Act. This new law provides a new tool for injured persons to hold police officers accountable and specifically prohibits the Qualified Immunity defense from being used. The importance of this cannot be overstated. New Mexicans will be in a significantly better position to hold police officers accountable when the law goes into effect on July 1, 2021.
The New Mexico Civil Rights Act has limitations of its own, including a written notice requirement that must be provided to the officer’s employer within one (1) year from the date of injury and a damage cap of $2,000,000.00.
If your rights have been violated it is imperative that you retain a police misconduct attorney in Albuquerque who will fight for you who knows how to use all the tools available to maximize recovery in your favor.
If you or a loved one have suffered because of police misconduct, call me at 505-452-7674 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free initial consultation. I’m here to help.