The United States Constitution, as well as the New Mexico Constitution, establish the foundational principles that define and govern the relationships between governmental entities and citizens. Those rights typically originate in the Bill of Rights and include, among other protections, the right to due process before a governmental entity can deprive a citizen of life, liberty or property; equal protection under the law, which at its core, requires that similarly situated people be treated the same; protection of religious freedom and free speech, rights defining government searches and seizures of persons or property; and other important rights.
In additional to constitutional law, there are a large number of federal and state laws that define and protect civil rights. They include laws prohibiting discrimination based upon a person’s race, sex, disability or other protected status; laws defining governmental obligations to conduct meetings and make decisions that are open to the public, and making government records accessible by the public; and laws defining how a governmental entity must conduct its business.
Smidt, Reist & Keleher, P.C. represents and provides legal counsel to public entities to assist them in navigating and complying with the complex overlay of federal and state civil rights obligations, as well as represent persons or entities whose civil rights have been violated.
Some of the Types of Civil Rights Representation We Handle
While the scope of civil rights issues we have handled is too expansive to list here, some of the more common areas of civil rights issues include:
- First Amendment Speech and Religion matters
- Discrimination and Equal Protection matters
- Development of legally compliant policies and procedures
- Whistleblower claims
- Open meetings act and inspection of public records
- Disability issues
- Administrative due process hearings