Our law enforcement agencies are entrusted with extraordinary power. The overwhelming majority of police officers enter the profession for the right reason and live the mission to protect and serve faithfully. Unfortunately, there are also many individuals who join law enforcement for the wrong reasons; no police department is inoculated from having officers who have or who will abuse their power.
Moreover, the criminal justice system has done a horrible job of holding law enforcement officers accountable. In short, the “blue wall” is real, and the police and the prosecutors they work closely with, on balance, do a very poor job of policing their own ranks in a criminal court setting.
section 1983 lawsuits
Fortunately, the civil justice system affords much more viable and effective options for victims of police misconduct and abuse. The statutory workhorse for police misconduct cases stems from Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871—a law passed in the post-civil war south to allow African-Americans to sue governmental entities for civil rights violations based on race. It is a sad commentary that this 1800 era law is as important today as it was back in the Jim Crow era.
A major development in terms of evidence and the success rate of Section 1983 lawsuits is the availability of bystander cell phone video and police body camera footage. What’s more, judges and juries no longer presume the innocence of accused officers merely because they adorn the uniform. The deluge of videos chronicling abuse have reached a critical mass and finally breached a naivete we, as a nation, have had about police interactions with the public, especially for African-Americans.
At Van Kampen Law, we have primarily focused our civil rights practice on pursuing legal claims against law enforcement agencies arising from sexual abuse scenarios. However, the need for quality representation in police brutality cases is endemic and there have been too few law firms in North Carolina offering representation of this kind. As a result, our firm has made a commitment in 2022 to partner with other civil rights law firms to pursue these traditional racially motivated police brutality cases.
NC Civil rights law
At Van Kampen Law, we’re uniquely situated to take on North Carolina police misconduct cases. We don’t practice criminal law; we are not beholden to any district attorney or police department. Furthermore, our attorneys have honed their skills in the plaintiff-side employment law arena, a subset of civil rights law that is generally regarded as one of the hardest areas of the law to practice, especially in the south.
The firm is led by Joshua Van Kampen, who Super Lawyers has included in its Top 100 North Carolina Attorney List and Top 25 Charlotte Attorney List for the last five consecutive years. In cases of this kind, it is imperative for victims to hire a “heavy hitter” capable of matching and beating the “Big Law” attorneys that municipalities typically turn to in these types of high-profile cases.