From The 'Lectric Law Library's Stacks Whosoever Under Color of Law - FBI Experts on Civil Rights Matters - by Edward M. Moreland *
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Since the inception of the FBI's training program at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia in 1935, and in each field office, Bureau agents have lectured law enforcement officers from every state in the union and many foreign countries that, when performing their duties as law enforcement officers (under color of law), all persons have certain civil rights under existing federal statutes and court decisions which must be considered.
To deprive persons of these rights subjects the law enforcement officer (sheriff, highway patrolman, policeman) to investigation by the FBI. Legal action, both civil and criminal, may result from these deprivations.
For over 60 years, the FBI has conducted civil rights investigations and submitted investigative reports to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. These investigative reports, submitted without recommendation, are reviewed by Justice Department attorneys who determine what, if any, subsequent investigation should be conducted and whether or not the U.S. Attorney in whose jurisdiction the alleged violation occurred should present the case to a Federal Grand Jury for indictment consideration.
Therefore, FBI agents are not only responsible for training law enforcement officers about the elements of the civil rights statutes, they are also assigned to investigate alleged violations of the law. Since the creation of the FBI in 1924 under J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI has always been a staunch advocate of citizens' civil rights.
In this era of civil and criminal litigation, the conduct of the law enforcement officer and the responses of the arrestee are reported in detail by the electronic and written news media. For this reason, attorneys, plaintiff and defendant are contracting with retired FBI agents who have had experience in training and investigating civil rights matters to act as consultants and render an impartial opinion in cases involving allegations of law enforcement or corrections misconduct.
In addition to these FBI experts' knowledge about the civil right's statutes through their participation in police training and field investigations, many have taught related subjects such as mechanics of arrest, proper police procedures and firearms training in police academies.
Retired FBI agents are good expert witnesses in civil rights cases and related matters for the following reasons:
A) They are well trained in giving depositions and testifying in court.
B) They are very knowledgeable about the elements of the civil rights statutes.
C) They are considered very reliable by jurors and judges. <
Cases involving civil rights matters which include excessive force arrests by police, failure to protect the security and safety of arrestees, improper classification and treatment of jail inmates and questionable police procedures, as reported by the news media, will continue to be the focus of attention by the public who may question the integrity of our police, prosecutors and corrections administrators.
"Justice is always violent to the party offending, for every man is innocent in his own eyes." - Daniel Defoe, 1702.
* Mr. Moreland, a retired FBI agent & corrections director, is now a criminal justice consultant & expert witness in law enforcement, corrections and civil rights matters. This Article was Provided by the Technical Assistance Bureau.