On Demand

An Introduction to §1983 Civil Rights Pleading Practice


Created on January 23, 2017




Following the Supreme Court's decisions in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, the former federal "notice" pleading standard has been supplanted by so-called "plausibility" pleading. This new standard presents unique challenges in the civil rights context, where government actors may hold critical sources of information that may not be available to litigants in advance of initiating suit. Municipalities and other state actors have been quick to adapt to this favorable new standard, and FRCP 12 motion practice is common in §1983 litigation today.

In this course, we will explore the intricacies of plausibility pleading in the context of §1983 actions, and give practitioners an introduction to the claims, defenses, and core constitutional concepts that underlay §1983 litigation in both police and corrections cases. We will explore critical differences between §1983 practice and more conventional common law litigation, and identify policy concerns that attorneys should be aware of in §1983 practice.

This course, presented by Samuel B. Cohen, noted New York §1983 practitioner, will provide practitioners with tools to create durable, persuasive §1983 pleadings that have the best chances of surviving FRCP 12 review, while preserving critical issues for discovery against both individual and supervisory defendants.

Learning Objectives: 
  1. Introduction to practical "plausibility" pleading for §1983 practitioners
  2. Overview of common §1983 claims and defenses

  3. Skills for "Rule 12 Proofing" §1983 pleadings
  4. Explore policy considerations that may be relevant to §1983 practice

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