George Floyd family attorney, Jeff Storms, with Floyd’s brothers and others, speaks during a press conference outside the U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota, on December 15, 2021.
Photo by Kerem Yucel/AFP
of JUSTICE By SHEREE R. CURRY
civil justice system both sees and responds to systemic racism. This change can be made whether a civil rights case settles pre-trial or has the facts roll out to a jury. Civil rights Section 1983 litigation is nuanced. Legal concepts such as qualified immunity, deliberate indifference and Monell doctrine require a level of understanding and advocacy that can tip cases in favor of the plaintiff under the most exacting review and evaluation of a judge. For a complicated civil rights case
to make it to trial, civil rights lawyers must navigate a maze of procedural challenges because there are multiple opportunities for the district court and appellate courts to dismiss the claim for failure to meet a legal standard or the requirements of the law. As a nationally recognized civil rights lawyer, Crump states, “In Minnesota, we just haven’t found anyone who understands 1983 litigation better than Jeff Storms.” He notes that such cases don’t
always advance. “Probably 90% of the cases with death by excessive use of force are dismissed on qualified immunity – that means families don’t get any justice in criminal courts nor in the civil courts.” This is why Crump, Storms and other civil rights advocates argue strenuously for the abolition of qualified immunity, a doctrine that Storms says unjustly prevents holding government actors accountable for violations of constitutional rights.
Summer 2022 Page 13
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