INFORMATION SHEET FOR CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINANTS
Our office’s Civil Rights team has a mission in evaluating and enforcing federal civil rights statutes. We appreciate you bringing to our attention potential violations of our nation’s federal civil rights laws. Not all the items below are applicable to everyone but we want point out a few things and explain the process:
- The U.S. Attorney’s Office does not represent you as your attorney and can conduct and resolve this matter without your approval. The U.S. Attorney’s Office represents the interests of the United States and does not act as an attorney for private individuals. You are free to obtain your own counsel for this matter. If you obtain your own attorney, please so advise us.
- We also cannot provide legal advice or opinions to private citizens. If you would like to pursue this matter further or on your own, you may wish to consult a private attorney to discuss what claims, if any, you may have under applicable federal and state laws. Please see the separate information sheet regarding potential attorney referrals from the South Carolina Bar and other legal service entities.
- We may separately request information for you. Please send us any additional information you may have, or that you may obtain in the future, that is relevant to your complaint against the above-named entity. Please also let us know if you have filed the same or a similar complaint with any other federal, state, or local government entity.
- Please also be advised that we may need to disclose your identity and other information you provide during the course of our investigation but we will not do so unless it is necessary for our enforcement activities or otherwise necessary and allowed by law. To further the Department’s enforcement activities, information we have about you may be given to appropriate federal, state, or local agencies. Additional disclosures of information may be made to members of Congress or their staff; volunteer student workers within the Department of Justice so that they may perform their duties; the news media; and the National Archives and Records Administration and General Services Administration to perform record management inspection functions in accordance with their statutory responsibilities. If, in light of this information, you wish to withdraw your complaint, please notify our office immediately.
- Please be aware that submitting a complaint to us has no effect on any statute of limitations that might apply to any claim you may have. By filing a complaint with this office you have not commenced a lawsuit or other legal proceeding, and this office has not initiated a suit or proceeding on your behalf.
Criminal Matters (when applicable)
- We also cannot assist individuals in bringing civil actions aimed at overturning criminal cases, including wrongful convictions, appeals or sentencing.
- If you have your own attorney in a related pending criminal or civil matter, please do not disclose your communications with your attorney to our office. Those communications are privileged under the attorney-client communications privilege. Feel free to have your attorney call our office.
- Please do not disclose to our office any details or facts about pending or related criminal charges. At most, we would only need to know the date, jurisdiction, and description of the charges. This is especially important if you have any pending federal criminal charges.
Generally the process works this way:
- You provide us with information, documents, etc.
- We then evaluate and analyze what you provide;
- Two general possibilities:
- From the outset, we determine that we cannot assist you, or,
- If we can potentially assist you, we contact the entity that you believe may be violating your rights under a federal civil rights statute; and
- If we do contact the entity, the next steps vary, including that our office might take no further action, or, we continue to try to resolve any potential violation.
We strive to keep complainants apprised of the outcome of their complaints to our office. However, because we do not represent you and/or we process a large volume of civil rights matters, we regrettably cannot provide the individualized attention that many aggrieved parties desire. We want to thank you ahead of time for your understanding.
Thank you again for reaching out to us with the information provided.