Civil rights march for Anastacio Hernandez Rojas

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

Speaking For The Voiceless, Defending the Powerless

Civil and Civil Rights Practice

Iredale and Yoo have successfully tried and settled civil rights cases involving violations of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments by government officials, including cases of: excessive force; unlawful arrest; false imprisonment; police retaliation for exercise of First Amendment rights; mistreatment of peaceful protesters; police brutality, harassment, and misconduct; personal injury; and wrongful death. 

The law firm represents victims of serious police misconduct or brutality who have suffered extensive and significant injuries, as well as the families of individuals wrongfully killed by law enforcement.

Julia Yoo has a special focus on protecting the civil rights of two particular groups of people: 1) peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment rights; and 2) individuals incarcerated in county jails or state or federal prisons. Ms. Yoo has represented individuals who were engaged in peaceful protest, but were unlawfully detained, arrested, or otherwise harmed by police officers.  She also represents inmates who have been sexually assaulted by correctional officers and litigated claims against jail and prison officials for failure to provide adequate medical care.   

Vindicating Individuals’ Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

  • Civil rights violations can take several forms:
  • Excessive force leading to major injury or wrongful death
  • False arrest and malicious prosecution without probable cause
  • Assaults on detained or incarcerated persons, including sexual assaults 
  • Denial of medical care for detained or incarcerated persons
  • Retaliation for exercise of First Amendment rights of free speech, including retaliatory arrests and unlawful force used against peaceful protesters;
  • Police Misconduct Cases

It is important for victims of police misconduct to understand that the law is deferential to government officials. Law enforcement officers are entitled to a special protection known as "qualified immunity." This immunity gives law enforcement officers broad discretion in their conduct as they perform their duties.  

Not every shove, bump or curse is going to be the basis for successful legal action against the police. A claim alleging violations of the Fourth, Fifth, or Fourteenth Amendment must have severe results — serious injury, death or wrongful conviction — to have a chance at success. In such cases, the actions of the law enforcement officers must be truly outrageous and the illegality, or unconstitutionality, of the officers’ conduct must be “clearly established” by caselaw.  

Fortunately, the law imposes a less onerous burden on a plaintiff claiming violations of his/her First Amendment rights. Regardless, everyone, including the police and federal law enforcement agents, must obey the law, including that most important rule of law, the Constitution. When government officials violate the Constitution, the rule of law requires that they be held responsible for their actions.

Cases

Estate of Anastacio Hernandez Rojas et al. v. United States of America et al.

At the San Ysidro border crossing, at least fourteen federal law enfocement officers surrounded Anastacio Hernandez-Rojas, a father of five. One officer tased him while he lay on the ground in handcuffs, while others restrained Anastacio with their body weight and blows. Anastacio died. His children brought suit for wrongful death against the individual agents and federal government. After almost seven years of litigation, the government paid the family $1 million.


Kevin Brown accused of murder

A retired San Diego police lab technician became the subject of a misguided police department homicide investigation. Homicide detectives ignoring the likehood of DNA lab contamination executed a warrant based on material omissions and false statements. Though the facts of this case are unique, the failures that drove Brown to suicide aren’t. Tunnel-visioned investigators, shoddy crime lab work and public officials who can’t bring themselves to admit that the system sometimes makes mistakes are unfortunately all too common.


Forgotten for days in a DEA holding cell, UCSD student Daniel Chong wins a $4.1 million settlement

Daniel was placed in a 5 feet by 10 feet holding cell with no windows, sink, toilet, or panic button in case of emergency. He remained forgotten in the holding cell, handcuffed, for five days.


San Diego County has agreed to pay $2.3 million to the family of Bernard Victorianne who died in San Diego's Central Jail in 2012 from a drug overdose

The Citizen’s Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) made seven findings that deputies were guilty of misconduct for failing to follow prisoner count and other procedures, lying during a subsequent investigation and failing to properly investigate the death.


$1 million dollar settlement in teen death against Customs and Border Patrol

Cruz Velazquez, a 16 year old Mexican student, was twice victimized. Drug smugglers threatened his family to convince him to cross two bottles containing contraband into the U.S. At the border, two CBP officers, knowing that the bottles likely contained liquid methamphetamine, diverted themselves by toying with the frightened boy. After asking what was in the bottles, and being told "juice," they told Cruz to "prove it" by drinking. The boy did. He died within an hour, when his temperature shot to 105 degrees, his family won compensation of $1 million.


National City paid $1.5 million to a man accidentally shot in the arm by a police officer

On March 10, 2015, Jesus Flores was driving his car when he was stopped by a National City police officer for a missing license plate.


$3 million dollar settlement case where deputy's repeated Taser shots cost man his legs

Eugene Iredale, the Criminal Defense Attorney working on the case, told NBC 7 that Marcial Torres agreed to accept $3 million in damages to settle his lawsuit against the county.


Jury Award Over $2 Million for Wrongful Detention and Excessive Force

A federal jury awarded over $2 million to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Sergio Lopez, finding that members of the Chula Vista Police Department committed assault and battery against him.