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42 USC 1983 and the 11th Amendment

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  • 42 USC 1983 and the 11th Amendment

    Maybe I should post this in "ask a lawyer", but since we don't have that, here goes:

    How are Section 1983 suits possible in light of the 11th Amendment immunity protection to the states? I'm confused as to when a state can or can not be sued by one of its citizens in federal court.
    "First of all, then we have to say the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama." - Al Sharpton, March 21, 2010

  • #2
    I am driving right now so this will be brief… If someone doesn’t post the case for you I will post it later when I have a chance. The Constitution is interpreted by the courts and thus the Supreme Court has held that an officer’s employer can be brought into the lawsuit. There are certain restrictions, Ill post them later.

    Regardless if they are brought into the case or not, the officer and employer will make a motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity, which is granted probably eight out of ten times. (Two specifc items must apply for it to be granted.)

    Most police civil rights lawsuits are brought under 1983 in federal court versus as a tort in state courts. In federal court you can recoup attorney fees and the judgments are generally larger. This assumes that the officer is a state or local. Law suits for civil rights violations against Federal Agents are brought as a Bivens Claim in federal court.


    (Again, this was just a brief overview.)
    Last edited by Stare; 04-04-2008, 06:06 AM.

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    • #3
      The US gives up some sovereign immunity in the Federal Tort Claims Act.

      If my memory is correct, the humdinger is the officer must have been acting under his "scope of employment"
      "He sprayed me in the face, then ran off!! I'm a victim!" -Guy with gold paint around his mouth in booking

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      • #4
        YUP - been there (wrongful death suit), won that. In fact, you CAN sue the United States, if it allows you to. Same with Indian tribes (sovereign nations). Since it is a Federal suit, it overrides state law.
        "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
        John Stuart Mill

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        • #5
          The state can't be sued in federal court under 42 USC 1983, but it can be sued in state court for the same thing. Also, the 11th Amendment does not apply to suits against county and local governments or individuals.
          Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
          Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

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