It is not right for children to die before their parents. It is not right for peaceful, unarmed citizens to die at the hands of the police. In my civil rights practice, I have met many mothers, fathers, and family members who are struggling to recover after a law enforcement officer caused the death of their loved one. Sure, they want fair compensation. But money does little to reduce their loss or make the grief more bearable. They often want to do something that will ensure that their loved one did not die in vain. They want to prevent other families from suffering the same loss. This Article will show that even without standing to seek injunctive relief, these plaintiffs can indeed secure significant reform. This Article will also share suggestions for the practitioner on how to litigate these cases economically and efficiently. Part I explores avenues for relief other than compensatory and punitive damages. Part II shares language to include in retainer agreements to encourage clients to share any settlement they reach with the public to increase awareness of police misconduct. Part III explains that researching local police policies and practices helps to inform where meaningful opportunities for reform exist. Part IV then provides examples of resolutions that require the officers involved and their supervisors to personally engage with the victims’ families or that commemorate victims in their respective communities. Finally, Part V reviews techniques for case selection, case theory, and working within a budget so the small office practitioner can make enough money to carry the work forward.
Alphonse A. Gerhardstein,
Making a Buck While Making a Difference,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol21/iss2/5