Practice Area: Government - Civil Rights Law and Litigation   drop
Civil rights law has developed to ensure that the constitutional rights of citizens are protected, while at the same time offering immunity or a defense for law enforcement or other governmental entities and/or officials charged with protecting and serving our communities.  The primary sources of civil rights law include the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution (the “Bill of Rights”), as well as a number of important pieces of federal legislation passed in recent decades. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a notable example of federal law aimed at preventing discrimination.  Other examples include the Equal Pay Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Fair Housing Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Rehabilitation Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Equal Educational Opportunities Act, the Age Discrimination Act, the Civil Service Reform Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, the Congressional Accountability Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, and the Reconstruction Statutes.
Civil rights law is also based on precedent case law that interprets the meaning of legislation and helps determine how the law applies to a given dispute. Additionally, states constitutions and other state civil rights legislation serve as a supplement to existing federal protections.  In some states, like Utah, the state constitution may provide greater civil rights protection than the U.S. Constitution.

Civil rights are designed to ensure that all citizens are treated equally, without respect to ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs, and other protected categories.  Civil rights also guard against overly intrusive conduct by the government.  Government actors are prohibited from making arbitrary or capricious decisions or depriving citizens of their lives, liberty, or property without due process of law.  Civil rights violations may give rise to a host of civil and criminal penalties, including lawsuits for money damages.

While civil rights laws are primarily aimed at protecting citizens’ individual or collective rights, they are also intended to provide protections for law enforcement or other government entities or their employees.  As part of civil rights law, a significant body of law has developed which gives law enforcement officers or other governmental or their employees absolute or qualified immunity for certain actions.  There has been an increase focus on the activities of law enforcement and government in the wake of certain civil rights related events over the past few years.  As a result, law enforcement agencies and other governmental entities need to make sure they respect the rights of every citizen, but these agencies or entities need to defend their legitimate and constitutional actions.

Christensen & Jensen’s civil rights attorneys have represented individuals, law enforcement officers, and other governmental entities and their employees in numerous civil rights disputes, at both the federal and state level.  Our civil rights attorneys understand the tension between the U.S. Constitution and the Utah constitution and the rights and obligations of law enforcement and employees of governmental entities.  Our attorneys recognize that the civil rights of every citizen are important and must be protected, but that the reach of the civil rights laws should be tempered to allow law enforcement and government to carry out their jobs.  Given our unique understanding of the dynamics involved in civil rights disputes, our civil rights attorneys are especially adept at handling almost any type of civil rights dispute that may arise.

Civil rights services provided by Christensen & Jensen include:
  • Excessive force and other police misconduct
  • Malicious prosecution and abuse of process
  • Wrongful convictions
  • Prison abuse, conditions, and medical treatment
  • Due process and first amendment retaliation claims by governmental workers
  • Due process, equal protection, and first amendment retaliation claims by citizens
  • Free speech
  • Employment harassment and discrimination
  • Housing discrimination
  • Voter access and discrimination
  • Education discrimination
  • Racial discrimination