Orange County Civil Rights Attorneys

Civil Rights Frequently Asked Questions

Question:
What are "civil rights" cases?

Answer:
Both California and the United States courts regulate the handling of "civil rights" cases. Defendants in civil rights cases are public entities, such as a local police department or other law enforcement agencies, city governments, county governments or state governments.

The typical civil rights case occurs where a police officer violates some constitutional right of a citizen which causes identifiable damages to the citizen. The most common type of civil rights case is where a police officer uses excessive and/or unreasonable force against a person suspected of committing a crime. However, a civil rights case might arise where, for example, a law enforcement agency conducts a search of a citizen's home without consent and without a warrant. Such a case may also arise when a police officer arrests an individual on less than probable cause.

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Question:
Must I file a claim within a specified period of time if I feel that my civil rights have been violated?

Answer:
The answer is "yes." If you wish to file a lawsuit for civil rights violations arising under California law, you must file what is known as a government claim with the appropriate law enforcement agency and/or city employing that agency. This government claim must be filed within six months of the incident, regardless of whether you have been or are still in jail as a result of what occurred. If you do not file that government claim with the appropriate agency or municipality within six months, you will lose forever your right to proceed against that agency or municipality in a court of law for any violation of your civil rights.

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Question:
What types of damages are available to me if I am injured in a violation of my civil rights?

Answer:
The damages available to you are unpaid medical bills, loss of income, damages for physical and emotional pain and suffering and punitive damages against the particular individual officer causing the violation. Your attorney can also receive an attorney's fee award if your case went to trial and you were successful in receiving monetary damages as compensation for your injuries.

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Question:
Why should I hire your law firm to represent me in a "civil rights" violation case?

Answer:

Joel W. Baruch became a lawyer in 1979. His first job as a lawyer was working for the Orange County Public Defender's Office. He was promoted very quickly and, in fact, tried his first homicide case to jury verdict before he reached his third year in the practice. Mr. Baruch stayed in the Public Defender's Office until 1986, and then entered into a law partnership with another well-known criminal defense lawyer. Mr. Baruch ultimately tried over 20 homicide and death penalty cases to jury verdict. In 1992, he went into private practice as a solo practitioner representing civil law clients for a period of time. Over the years, Mr. Baruch's law firm has grown and he has hired top-notch civil law attorneys and paralegal staff. Everyone who works for Mr. Baruch, even the receptionist, is required to have a college degree in order to work here.

Mr. Baruch has tried close to 200 cases; in his early years he tried criminal cases and, in his later years, civil trials. He has literally cross-examined hundreds of police officers and expert witnesses in his career. He believes there are good police officers and bad police officers and, in fact, Mr. Baruch and the lawyers in his firm have also represented police officers who have found themselves being victimized by their own agencies. Nonetheless, there are police officers who have used excessive force and have caused serious injury and death to members of the public.

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