Using the Bane Act to address police misconduct

Citizen in confrontation with police officer

Consumer Attorneys of California FORUM magazine
July/August 2022
By Julia Yoo

In January 2022, Senate Bill 2 went into effect, amending the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act (Civ. Code, § 52.1). Victims of law enforcement misconduct can now bring a “Bane Act” claim for malicious prosecution and for injuries to prisoners. The California state immunities that previously foreclosed these claims have been removed. The Bane Act is California’s most expansive civil rights law, the state counterpart to the federal civil rights act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Making use of the Bane Act is critically important because 1) unlike § 1983, there is no defense of qualified immunity under the Bane Act and 2) unlike § 1983, remedies include treble damages and multipliers in attorneys’ fees. Because our most vulnerable victims often cannot establish high economic damages, these remedies are critical in leveling the playing field and in bringing defendants to the table to discuss making victims whole.

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