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Governmental & Civil Rights Law

HeplerBroom’s Governmental and Civil Rights Practice Group provides counseling and litigation services to a variety of local government entities. These entities face numerous challenges on a daily basis, and the laws and regulations in this area are increasingly complex and ever changing.

Our Governmental and Civil Rights attorneys are uniquely qualified to collaborate with these entities to face any challenge they may encounter.

Individualized Service

Our team’s first step is to gain a thorough understanding of each governmental unit’s individual needs. Next, we develop goals for resolving any current issues, and then we apply our experience, skill, and creativity to help reach those goals.

Experienced Attorneys

We also use our substantial experience in general and litigation matters involving all aspects of local government law to help ensure that our clients operate productively and efficiently. Our team takes a proactive approach to incident and catastrophic response to lessen potential liability for public sector clients. Our goal is to reduce the number of lawsuits filed, the costs of defense, and ultimate liability. If litigation does occur or is required, our experienced legal team will work to provide a swift and effective resolution to the matter.

Critical Response Programs

Crisis events often involve high risk, high exposure, and media attention. Our team has developed a seven-step critical response program that we employ if one of these events occurs.

Our attorneys will train your staff on these seven steps and work with you to develop written policies and plans that you can implement before, during, and after a critical incident. If an incident does occur, we will work side by side with you to develop a strategy for press releases, media responses, investigations, potential discipline, and future litigation.

LEGAL COUNSELING SERVICES

Our attorneys are experienced in representing a variety of local governmental entities and special districts—including municipalities, counties, townships, park districts, school districts, and fire protection districts—in a variety of capacities, from general counsel to special counsel.

We are knowledgeable in the laws governing the critical day-to-day matters encountered by local governments, which enables us to effectively counsel our clients in the following areas:

  • Legislative and procedural matters
  • State and federal compliance issues
  • Ethics and conflicts of interest
  • Public bidding
  • Purchasing and contracting
  • Open meeting and open records
  • Labor and personnel issues
  • FOIA responses
  • Council, committee, and board meetings
  • Government functions and practices
  • Finance
  • Vendor contracts
  • Land use matters
  • Prosecutions
  • Labor negotiations
  • Drafting and reviewing policies, procedures, and general orders
  • Internal investigations (employment, racial profiling, elected officials)
  • Crisis response programs

LITIGATION SERVICES

When faced with litigation, local governments regularly call upon HeplerBroom because our Governmental and Civil Rights attorneys have extensive experience in state and federal courts in Illinois and Missouri. We aggressively litigate cases on behalf of our clients.

Section 1983 Civil Rights Defense

Civil rights defense is a unique area of law requiring extensive knowledge of 42 USC §1983. This statute provides for a civil cause of action for violations of an individual’s constitutional rights by a state actor. Our attorneys have extensive experience defending police officers, police departments, and local governments in these complex claims, with all of their unique characteristics and pitfalls. Defending such claims requires a deep knowledge and understanding of the duties of law enforcement and the legal system, as well as a sense of fairness and confidentiality.

HeplerBroom’s Governmental and Civil Rights Practice Group has defended claims involving:

  • excessive force
  • officer-involved shootings
  • unlawful detention and arrest
  • illegal search and seizure
  • wrongful convictions
  • improper procedure
  • denial of healthcare
  • wrongful death actions
  • cruel and unusual punishment
  • failure to train
  • Monell claims
  • in-custody deaths
  • deliberate indifference
  • First Amendment violations
  • sexual abuse

Tort Litigation

Our attorneys also defend police officers, police departments, prosecutors, and local governmental entities in tort claims brought in Illinois and Missouri state courts. This requires an understanding of the unique laws applicable to such claims, including immunities and other defenses. We have successfully defended claims involving:

  • wrongful death
  • personal injury
  • property damage
  • negligence
  • breach of contract

Employment Litigation

The attorneys in HeplerBroom’s Governmental and Civil Rights Practice Group also regularly represent a variety of local governmental entities in employment litigation matters. We have extensive experience in matters involving:

  • discrimination
  • retaliation
  • wrongful discharge
  • breach of employment contracts
  • whistleblowers
  • disability