Special Litigation Section
Special Litigation Section
The Special Litigation Section is one of several Sections in the Civil Rights Division. We work to protect civil rights in the following areas: 1) the rights of people in state or local institutions, including: jails, prisons, juvenile detention facilities, and health care facilities for persons with disabilities; 2) the rights of individuals with disabilities to receive services in their communities, rather than in institutions; 3) the rights of people who interact with state or local police or sheriffs' departments; 4) the rights of youth involved in the juvenile justice system; 5) the rights of people to have safe access to reproductive health care clinics; and 6) the rights of people to practice their religion while confined to state and local institutions. We can also act on behalf of people at risk of harm in these areas.
To accomplish this work, our Section is organized in four practice groups: the Corrections Practice Group, the Disability Practice Group, the Juvenile Practice Group and the Police Practice Group. On occasion, staff may be assigned work outside their practice group, including work to enforce the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act or the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994.
Special Litigation Section News
Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by the Louisville Metro Police Department and Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government
On April 26, 2021, the Department of Justice opened a pattern or practice investigation into the Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government and the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) under 34 U.S.C. § 12601, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Safe Streets Act, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. On March 8, 2023, we released the results of our investigation. We found reasonable cause to believe that: (1) LMPD uses excessive force; (2) LMPD conducts searches based on invalid warrants; (3) LMPD unlawfully executes search warrants without knocking and announcing; (4) LMPD unlawfully stops, searches, detains, and arrests people during street enforcement activities; (5) LMPD unlawfully discriminates against Black people in its enforcement activities; (6) LMPD violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech critical of policing; and (7) Louisville Metro and LMPD discriminate against people with behavioral health disabilities. We also identified deficiencies in LMPD’s response to and investigation of domestic violence and sexual assault, including its responses to allegations that LMPD officers engaged in sexual misconduct or domestic violence. Louisville Metro and LMPD have committed to resolving these findings through a court-enforceable consent decree with an independent monitor. The Department of Justice, Louisville Metro, and LMPD are now in the process of negotiating this agreement. Individuals with ideas about the reform process are encouraged to contact us via email at Community.Louisville@usdoj.gov or by phone at 1-844-920-1460. Individuals can also report civil rights violations regarding this or other matters using the Civil Rights Division’s reporting portal, available at www.civilrights.justice.gov.
Findings Report (2023) | Agreement in Principle (2023)
DOJ Launches Investigation of Oklahoma’s Mental Health Service System and Oklahoma City’s and Oklahoma City Police Department’s Response to Mental Health Crises
On November 17, 2022, the Department of Justice opened an investigation into the State of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, and the Oklahoma City Police Department (OKCPD). The investigation will examine whether Oklahoma fails to provide community-based services for people with mental illness in Oklahoma County, leading to unnecessary admissions to psychiatric facilities and police contact. The investigation will also examine Oklahoma City’s systems for responding to people experiencing behavioral health crises, including through the 911 call center and OKCPD. The investigation will be conducted by a team of career attorneys from the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division. Individuals who wish to share information related to the investigation are encouraged to contact us via email at MentalHealth.Oklahoma@usdoj.gov, or through the Civil Rights Division’s Civil Rights Portal.
DOJ Opens Pattern or Practice Investigation into the Worcester Police Department
On November 15, 2022, the Department of Justice opened a civil pattern or practice investigation into the Worcester Police Department (WPD). The investigation will assess whether WPD engages in a pattern or practice of excessive force and discriminatory policing on the basis of race and sex. The investigation will be conducted by a team of career attorneys from the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division and the Civil Rights Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. Individuals who wish to share information related to the investigation are encouraged to contact us via email at email@example.com, by phone at 1-888-221-6023, or through the Civil Rights Division’s Civil Rights Portal.
DOJ Opens Pattern or Practice Investigation into the New York Police Department Special Victims Division
On June 30, 2022, the Department of Justice opened a civil pattern or practice investigation into the Special Victims Division of the New York City Police Department, pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The investigation will assess whether the Special Victims Division engages in a pattern or practice of gender-biased policing. The investigation will be conducted by a team of career civil attorneys from the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York. Individuals who wish to share information related to the investigation are encouraged to contact us via email at USNYS.CommunitySVD@usdoj.gov or by calling 212-637-2746. Individuals can also report civil rights violations regarding this or other matters using the Civil Rights Division’s reporting portal, available at www.civilrights.justice.gov.
Special Litigation Section
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