Judges, attorneys to explore 'Nuts and Bolts of Section 1983'

The Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of Michigan Chapter, and the Civil Rights Section of the FBA will present the Civil Rights Étouffée on the Road in Detroit with “Nuts and Bolts of Section 1983 and Qualified Immunity: (Nearly) Everything There is to Know” on Friday, October 20, from 11:45 a.mto 5 p.m. in the Detroit Room of the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse, 231 W. Lafayette Blvd in Detroit.

This program is intended not only for newer attorneys and law clerks, but also anyone who wants to participate in the court’s pro bono program or who supervises attorneys on such cases. The program is also a good primer for anyone looking to expand into Section 1983 litigation.

The program agenda features:

• Noon to 1:30 – Lunch and Speaker

“Section 1983 and Qualified Immunity: Where it’s Been and Where it Might be Headed,” with Professor Alexander A. Reinert, the Max Freund Professor of Litigation and Advocacy at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

• 1:45 to 3:15 – Section 1983 Nuts and Bolts for Litigators

U.S. District Court Judges Judith E. Levy will introduce the afternoon event, explaining the importance of Section 1983 cases to the court as the largest portion of the docket as well as the substance of the cases. The panel will address a range of topics related to Section 1983 litigation.  Panelists include U.S. District Court Judges Judith E. Levy and Terrence G Berg, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Stafford, Cary S. McGehee, Nolan J. Moody, Michael Hanchett, and Robin Wagner.

• 3:30 to 4:30 – Questions and Answers for the Panel, including special guest speaker Alexander A. Reinert

The speakers will endeavor to cover topics including:

• How to understand and recognize the key elements of a Section 1983 claim

• The core of the complaint and the facts

• Unique considerations in the prison context, like exhaustion

• The typical procedural postures of a case that is referred for pro bono counsel

• Representing incarcerated persons in civil matters

• Discovery challenges unique to prisoner-rights cases – what kinds of documents might exist particular to this context that you need to look for? What questions to ask?

• How to use the specific tools of discovery in the prison context

• When and why you might need a request to permit entry on land

• Client communications

• Depositions in the prison context

• Special orders needed if client/witnesses must appear in court

• Understanding the concerns of the government entity defendant

• Client management issues

• Time it takes to make decisions and get responses to questions related to clients and witnesses

• Security concerns

• How to handle discovery disputes in these cases

• Pre-trial motions: how to be effective and strategic with Motions in Limine, exhibits, other pre-trial planning

• Damages – what’s available, how to evaluate and understand the value of the case

• Mediation/settlement conferences

• Trial nuts and bolts

Cost is $15 for FBA members and $25 for non-members and guests. Judges, and FBA member law clerks and court staff can attend for free. 

To register, visit https://fbamich.org and click on “events.”

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