Monday, September 1, 2014


If you recall, one way to limit the rights of freedmen and Blacks after the Civil War and into the early Twentieth Century was through "peonage"--Blacks were forced to work the land for a plantation owner, either to pay off unfairly imposed debt or as punishment for a criminal conviction. Here is as short description, along with an affidavit of a man forced into peonage labor.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

For Tuesday

Thursday audio.

We will finish Under Color, with the garnishment/attachment cases. Where is the state action in the ordinary garnishment? Was Lugar correctly decided? If any of the panelists wants to write on this, the commentary will be due on Tuesday September 9.

We then begin Rights, Privileges, and Immunities: Enforcing Federal Statutes. See the jurisdictional issues, as well as the confusion over the Supremacy Clause, as discussed in Thiboutot. What is the connection between the implied rights analysis and the § 1983 "and laws" analysis? Panelists are Ali, Megan, and Amanda.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

For Thursday

Tuesday audio.

On Thursday, we will finish or just about finish "Under Color." Be ready to discuss the five tests/approaches to under color, as well as the garnishment/attachment issues discussed in § 2.05. Note the Puzzle in § 2.04[6], the next step in the Yankee Stadium lawsuit.

Since we might make it that far, please begin Rights, Privileges, and Immunities: Enforcing Federal Statutes. Just for Thursday, read the assigned statutes, Thiboutot, and Understanding §§ 2.11-2.14; we will focus on the preliminary jurisdictional issues involved in Thiboutot and efforts to enforce statutes through § 1983.

Again, starting Thursday, it will be up to you to figure out the ties.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

For Tuesday

Thursday audio. Excellent job today (of course, now the pressure is on to keep it going :-)).

We will begin class with the Under Color Puzzles from § 2.03[4]. In addition, be ready to discuss the following. X, a corrections officer, returns home from work to find her daughter and B, the daughter's boyfriend, in the girl's bedroom. X, still in uniform, punches B, points her service weapon at him, threatens to file trespassing charges against him, and to file a false report because "they'll believe whatever I say." Can B show that X acted under color of state law? We then will continue with the rest of the assigned materials on Under Color, turning to situations in which a nominally private actor may act under color and thus be subject to constitutional liability.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Some Ferguson lawsuits

This one challenges a police policy (not sure what department--County, City, or State Police, all of whom are on the scene) of ordering people to stop recording events on the street. According to this report, the ACLU and the government reached an agreement regarding the right to record. This one challenges a policy prohibiting people from standing in one place for more than five seconds (according to one report, 75 people were arrested Monday evening/Tuesday morning for failing to disperse).

You can see the basic structure that the complaints follow, in terms of facts, parties, claims, and remedies sought. Keep these in mind as we proceed; we will be coming back to them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Panel Assignments

Under Color:
Franco Bacigalupo
Sara Gordils
Megan Gil
Anthony Halmon

Rights, Privileges, Immunities:
Ali Boren
Megan Gil
Amanda Torres

Claims Against Federal Officials:
Amanda Torres
Ali Boren

Legislative Immunity:
Sara Gordils
Franco Bacigalupo

Judicial and Prosecutorial Immunity:
Ali Boren
Anthony Halmon

Qualified Immunity:
Franco Bacigalupo
Megan Gil

Municipal/Supervisory Liability:
Jeremy Thompson
Sara Gordils

State Sovereign Immunity:
Ali Boren
Jeremy Thompson

Procedural Issues:
Amanda Torres
Anthony Halmon

Franco Bacigalupo
Megan Gil
Sara Gordils

Damages/Attorneys' Fees:
Amanda Torres
Jeremy Thompson

Injunctive ReliefL
Jeremy Thompson
Anthony Halmon

For Thursday

Tuesday audio. This was a good start to the semester.

On Thursday, we will spend a few minutes at the start of class talking about the Syllabus and assignments for the semester.

We then begin with "Under Color of Law" and State Action. For Thursday, we will discuss Monroe v. Pape, the case that revitalized § 1 of the KKK Act, and Understanding §§ 2.01-2.03, which includes the Puzzles in § 2.03[4]. Panelists are Sara, Megan, Franco, and Anthony.

I will list the complete panel assignments in a second post.

And again, keep an eye on events in Ferguson over the next few days, especially as you read and start to understand these materials.

Timeliness of this course

You never know when events are going to make a class especially timely--and thus make this blog especially useful as a supplement to class. But here we are, with the tragic events in Ferguson, MO. Much litigation will follow once this all ends, a lot of it involving laws and issues that we are going to be talking about.

Here's an example to start: This article in Slate about the power of the Department of Justice to use civil litigation and injunctions to reform local law enforcement. The law in question, 42 U.S.C. § 14141, is on the syllabus at several points. It also raises an issue we will talk about today--when should the federal government lead enforcement efforts and when should private litigation?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Civil Rights and the Civil Rights Blog

Welcome to Civil Rights and the FIU Civil Rights Blog. There are three posts that you must read and follow prior to our first class meeting on Tuesday, August 19.

To read the blog, go to; posts can be read going down from most recent to least recent. To post to the blog, go to; you can log-in with a username and password. For complete information on the purposes and uses of the blog, see the Syllabus.

To be able to post, you must register as an author and a reader. To register as an author, please send an e-mail to me ( In the subject line, type “Civil Rights Blog Registration;” in the body of the e-mail, please type your name and your e-mail address. You then will receive an e-mail “Invitation” inviting you to join as an author on the blog. You must follow the steps outlined in the invitation e-mail to register (under your full name, no handles or usernames) as an author. Please register under your full (first and last) name. Please do this at the beginning of the semester, as soon as you receive the invitation.

Once you have registered, take a few minutes to explore how to write a post. Note that you can put up photographs and video. You also can put web links in the text by highlighting the text you want to use for the hyperlink and clicking the "Link" button.

Panel Sign-up

As discussed in the Syllabus, we will work with panels of 2-4 students who are "on call" for each subject. Listed below are the subjects and the number of panel slots for each. Please identify four (4) subjects for which you would like to be on call and email ( your preferences to me prior to the first class; I will try to match preferences of the early birds. I will distribute a sign-up sheet during the first class to fill-in any remaining spots.

Under Color of Law/State Action: 4
Right, Privileges, and Immunities: 4
Claims Against Federal Officials: 2
Legislative Immunity: 2
Judicial/Prosecutorial Immunity: 2
Executive Qualified Immunity: 2
Municipal/Supervisory Liability: 3
State Sovereign Immunity: 3
Procedural Issues: 2
Abstention: 4
Damages/Attorneys Fees: 2
Injunctive Relief: 2

Materials and First Week Assignments

Download and read the Syllabus (or at right) for complete details about the course, assignments, pedagogical approach, course rules, and grading methods. You should bring the Syllabus with you to every class.

Required Course Materials:

 1) Howard M. Wasserman, Understanding Civil Rights Litigation (LexisNexis 2013)
     Appendix A: Constitution of the United States
     Appendix B: United States Code and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (selected provisions)
   1) Individual cases, unedited. You are responsible for downloading these; you can find them on Westlaw, Lexis, Oyez Project, Justia, or any other online source.
   2) Edited articles and other materials posted to the Blog, to be downloaded and brought to class

Assignments for the first day of class, Tuesday, August 20:


U.S. Const. amend XIII, XIV

Understanding, Chapter 1

Additional Notes
• No laptops are permitted for notetaking.  
• Owing to the absence of a single casebook, you may use an iPad, tablet, or book reader (Kindle, Nook, etc.) solely for purposes of bringing assigned cases and extra materials to class (in lieu of printing them out) and for no other purpose.
• Note the following class scheduling issues:
   • No class on Thursday, September 25 (Jewish Holy Day): Will be made up
   • No class on Tuesday, November 11 (Veterans’ Day)
   • Final class on Tuesday, November 25