Choosing the right lawyer is important in any case, but is particularly important in civil rights cases where individuals are seeking to hold state actors such as police officers and government officials accountable. Civil rights law is constantly evolving, making it imperative that your attorneys are well-versed and highly experienced in the civil rights arena of federal court. Further, as a client, you want to know if the attorneys have had cases similar to yours and if they have had success in their previous civil rights cases. It is also an expensive area to practice in with constant need of capable experts to help decide whether a case is meritorious and to help prove such cases. You need to know the lawyer you choose can afford to prosecute the case to the fullest extent. We can, others cannot. Obtaining answers to the following questions can help you determine if a firm or a particular attorney is willing and the most able to fight hard to vindicate your constitutional rights.
- What types of verdicts and settlements have you obtained for victims of unconstitutional conduct? - How many verdicts and settlements over $10 million? - How many verdicts and settlements between $1 and $5 million? - How many verdicts and settlements between $500,000 and $1 million?
- How long have you been practicing civil rights law?
- How many civil rights cases has your firm filed in the last year?
- How many civil rights cases has your firm tried in the last 10 years?
- What percentage of your practice is devoted to civil rights or section 1983 cases?
- How will your civil rights team handle my case?
- Who is your typical client?
- Can your firm fund the experts and depositions necessary to present my case in the best possible way. In other words, is the firm you’ve become aware of through advertising or web presence able to actually fund your case for the long haul.
The civil rights team at Gaskins Bennett Birrell, LLP would like to answer these questions for you up front to help make your selection process easier.
1.) The GBB civil rights team has obtained over $40 million in verdicts and settlements for victims of unconstitutional governmental conduct. This amount includes the largest settlement in the State of Minnesota in a Section 1983 case – the police shooting case of Ngo v. Storlie, which we settled for $4.5 million in 2007. Our success continues. Already in 2015, GBB civil rights lawyers have brought in over $3.4 million in verdicts and settlements on 5 cases. In 2014, GBB lawyers settled 5 civil rights cases for a total of $4.39 million. The numbers and results speak for themselves and far exceed those of our competitors.
- 1 settlement over $15 million
- 11 settlements and verdicts between $1 and $4.5 million
- 7 settlements and verdicts between $500,000 and $1 million
2.) Collectively, the civil rights team at GBB has over 60 years of experience in the area and works on these types of cases day-in and day-out. The team consists of one of Minnesota’s Top 100 Super Lawyers, three Minnesota Lawyer’s Attorneys of the Year, and multiple “Rising Stars,” who obtained these honors, in part, as recognition for their work in the civil rights arena.
3.) Since January 2014, the GBB civil rights team has filed 7 new cases in Federal Court. These cases include two police shooting cases, including the high profile Highway 212 shooting of a female hostage, two jail suicide cases, and numerous police brutality cases. Additional police brutality cases are in the investigation stages and GBB anticipates filing them in second half of 2015.
4.) The GBB civil rights team has extensive experience in federal court including trials, oral arguments and high level settlement negotiations. Since 2005, GBB lawyers have brought 15 civil rights cases to trial.
5.) While the breakdown of the caseload for each individual civil rights lawyer at GBB varies at any given time, a majority of the team’s cases are civil rights § 1983 actions. Typically, the team handles a number of police brutality or excessive force cases. We typically also handle some jail suicide or deliberate indifference cases.
6.) The civil rights lawyers at GBB make up a cohesive team that deals with these cases daily. Typically, 2-3 lawyers will be assigned to any given civil rights case. Yet, our clients receive the benefit of the entire team. Our lawyers regularly consult on and contribute to each other’s cases. This is a key advantage of selecting a GBB lawyer because, with us, you get the benefit of the specialized knowledge and experience of multiple lawyers with an established understanding of the intricacies of civil rights law. We are constantly collaborating and strategizing to obtain the best results for our clients.
7.) The GBB civil rights lawyers have experience representing clients of all different ages, races, genders, backgrounds and socio-economic statuses. We have found that civil rights violations happen to and affect all different kinds of people. Yet, in many instances, each affected person has the same fears and concerns. For example, in police excessive force cases, many times our clients first must deal with trumped-up criminal charges meant to deprive the individual his or her right to bring a civil rights action. Also, in such circumstances, the police reports can be false or misleading, which can further a client’s dissatisfaction and distrust for the government and/or judicial system. Due to our lengthy experience in this area of law, the GBB civil rights attorneys have the knowhow to help you and/or your families through these difficult and frustrating times.
8.) Importantly, GBB can fund cases of all sizes and types and the firm is never deterred from taking a case with the prospect of sizable expense on the front end and the defendants and insurers are very aware of this fact. GBB has experience with and access to competent experts needed to assess difficult fact situations for liability and to explain complicated issues to the jury in the areas of: use of force and deadly force; police practices; forensic medicine; ballistics; crime scene behavior; prison and jailer conduct; and medical issues of all types.
There are many lawyers and law firms that claim to do civil rights and police misconduct work. That is an easy thing to say, but a very hard thing to actually do. If you have been a victim of police brutality you need to pick an attorney and firm with the real life experience of handling and trying such cases, as well as a firm with the financial ability and guts to expend the funds necessary not only to prevail, but to get the most advantageous result. These are questions you need to ask and real answers you need to receive when making your decision.