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Police Misconduct Litigation in NY: A Primer

(921 reviews)

Produced on September 21, 2014

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Course Information

Time 100 minutes
Difficulty Beginner

Course Description

Without question, police officers have challenging jobs. However, this does not give them the right to overstep legal boundaries by arresting people without a basis, bringing false charges, fabricating evidence, or using unnecessary force. As vividly demonstrated by the recent events involving Eric Garner in Staten Island, Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, the settlement of the Central Park 5 cases, and the federal court decision declaring the NYPD’s stop and frisk practice to be unconstitutional, instances of police misconduct are all too common, and the consequences are devastating – both to those individuals who have been victimized by police abuse, and to our society in general. After all, the preservation of our civil rights and liberties is essential to the health of our republic. 

In this course, Ameer Benno, a New York City-based civil rights attorney, introduces viewers to the litigation of police misconduct cases, including identifying the proper parties, prerequisites to filing the lawsuit, relevant time limitations on doing so, and factors to consider in determining the proper forum in which to bring the action. This course also provides an overview of the most commonly-asserted claims and defenses under both federal and state law, compares the relative advantages and disadvantages of state and federal law in this area, and discusses what relief is available, including statutory attorney’s fees. The course will also cover some of the commonly encountered discovery issues and ethical considerations in police misconduct cases. 


Learning Objectives

  1. Learn how to identify the proper parties, claims, and defenses, as well as the differences between state and federal claims
  2. Understand the prerequisites to filing a police misconduct lawsuit
  3. Recognize the various time limitations, such as accrual dates and statutes of limitation, involved for the various claims 
  4. Comprehend the factors that must be weighed in deciding whether to bring the action in state or federal court
  5. Learn about some of the most frequently encountered discovery issues, and how to address them
  6. Gain insight on the different forms of relief available, including statutory attorney’s fees
  7. Become acquainted with some of the ethical considerations involved in litigating police misconduct cases

This course originally appeared as a part of our September 2014 Bridge the Gap Event.


Credit Information

This course is pre-approved for CLE credit in the following states. If your state is not listed, contact support for more information on how to receive credit

Lawline reports attorney attendance in select states. View more about CLE reporting .


Ameer Benno

Ameer Benno, Attorney at Law

Mr. Benno began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney at the esteemed Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where, under then-District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, he served in both the trial division and the appeals bureau. In the trial division, Mr. Benno investigated and prosecuted violent and white-collar crimes and tried several jury trials to verdict, all as primary chair. In the appeals bureau, Mr. Benno handled all aspects of criminal appeals, and regularly submitted arguments to the New York State Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest tribunal.

After several years as an Assistant District Attorney, Mr. Benno left government service to work for a premier civil litigation law firm where he tried civil cases and managed a caseload that focused on civil rights matters in state and federal court.

In 2009, Mr. Benno opened his own law practice, which focused on civil rights cases in state and federal court, criminal defense, and appellate litigation.

In addition to an active trial practice, Mr. Benno has briefed and argued criminal and civil appeals in the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Departments of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, the New York State Court of Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

In 2010, Mr. Benno argued People v. Mothersell in the New York State Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest tribunal. That case, which challenged the constitutionality of the City of Syracuse’s usage of “all persons present” search warrants, resulted in a unanimous reversal of the client’s criminal conviction and the dismissal of his indictment, and changed the landscape of criminal law practice in New York State. More recently, Mr. Benno was lead counsel in Bailey v. Pataki, a Section 1983 civil rights action against former New York State Governor George Pataki and several members of his administration for creating and implementing an unconstitutional civil commitment policy for a class of prisoners. Mr. Benno briefed and argued the interlocutory appeal in that case to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. He won that appeal, and thereafter tried the case in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. After a three and a half week trial, the jury found a top member of Gov. Pataki’s administration liable for violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.

From 2006 through 2012, Mr. Benno was an adjunct professor at New York Law School, where he taught Legal Reasoning and Writing and Written and Oral Advocacy.

Mr. Benno is admitted to the New York and Connecticut state bars, and is admitted to practice in the federal courts of the Southern, Eastern, Western, and Northern Districts of New York as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.

He serves on the Civil Rights and Liberties Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association, and is a member of the Civil Rights Section of the American Association of Justice. Mr. Benno is also a member of the National Police Accountability Project, the New York City Policing Roundtable, the First Amendment Lawyers Association, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the Brooklyn Bar Association. 

Mr. Benno also is a member of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the New York State Defenders Association. He is a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Legal Committee.

In 2012 and again in 2013, Mr. Benno was selected to the Super Lawyers Rising Stars list as one of the top up‐and‐coming attorneys in the metro-New York area in the areas of First Amendment and civil rights law. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor.

In 2013 and 2014, Mr. Benno was also selected by the National Trial Lawyers for inclusion in the Top 100 trial attorneys in New York State in the area of criminal law. This is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state in the nation who meet stringent qualifications. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research. In 2014, Mr. Benno was also selected for inclusion in the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40.

Mr. Benno is rated 10.0, the highest rating given, by the online lawyer rating service Avvo.com.

Mr. Benno received his B.A. degree with honors from Johns Hopkins University, and his J.D. from Cornell Law School. While at Cornell Law School, Mr. Benno received recognition for his superior litigation abilities and was a member of the prestigious Moot Court Board.


Melea B.

Excellent primer. Lecturer should conduct more classes.

Thomas C.

Very informative. Thank You.

Dawn G.

As a primer, this is a fantastic introduction to this area.

Sheafe B W.

Great presentation. Ambitious amount of material to cover in one session.

Richard M.

Richard Mattner Attorney Benno's presentation was superlative. His material is a wonderful Primer and should be on all practioner's desks providing a detailed checklist for their work. Thank you for a very fine effort.

Stanley O.

Excellent course with a wealth of information and sound examples.

Richard K.


Jeffrey K.

Nice, relaxed, thorough presentation of very interesting and relevant program. Ameer is a terrific teacher.

Frank M.

Really good. Section summarizing differences between federal and state court very helpful.

Robert L. G.

Very informative, and an excellent speaker.

Marina B.

Excellent! The best course so far. I highly recommend this course and, in fact, I think I will listen to it again because it is so very thorough, informative and well presented. I cannot say enough good things about this course.

Marcia R.

Mr. Benno is one of the best speakers I have ever heard.

Walter T.


Peter K.

Easy to follow, very informative

Gregory S.

The speaker covered a lot of material in a clear and organized manner.

Eric C.

Well done.

Mark I. A.

extremely informative

Farhad B.

Very comprehensive course.

Michael S.

This was a very thorough introduction on Police Misconduct.

Rachele V.

Excellent overview, terrific speaker, abundant, detailed materials.

daniel h.

Very good

Beth S.

very well presented and interesting

Dana G.

Covered a ton but very clearly. Excellent program.

William S.

Great synopsis

John K.

Timely and excellent, thanks,.

Ryan N.

Great course. Thanks!

Allana A.

Instructor really packed a lot of great information into this program and yet it was taught in a really easy to understand and follow manner. Excellent written materials. Did a nice job breaking down advantages of going through state v. federal court A+

Victor C.

Very thorough discussion of the various police misconduct claims.

Alison C.

Clear presentation

David J.

Excellent course!

David F.

excellent job

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