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After filing a police misconduct claim against the city, how long should I wait? What are the deadlines?

San Francisco, CA |

I filed a claim against the city government (mailed it UPS certified to the city clerk's office) in early November because of police misconduct that happened in mid-May, a week before the 6-month deadline following the incident. I also filed a complaint with the police department in early September (got interviewed by a Sergeant and in early October another interview with a Detective) against the specific officer in question. It has now been two months and no news from the city or PD. The PD has a policy of finishing their investigation in less than 300 days (1 year by law). While I wait to hear from them and/or the city are there any other deadlines I should be mindful? What should I expect to happen next and when?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

To expand a bit on Ms. Berjis response, if the city hasn't acted on your claim it is deemed to be denied by operation of law after 45 days, which means you can then file a lawsuit. The city also has to send a denial letter with certain language required by statute in order to trigger the 6 month statute of limitations. If they fail to send such a letter the statute of limitations is two years. The claims filing requirement relates to state causes of action, and civil rights lawsuits typically also include state claims in addition to the civil rights claims. The statute of limitations for a civil rights lawsuit is two years. You should consult with an attorney experienced in police related cases if you intend to pursue such a lawsuit. Be aware that cities often aggressively defend such claims (that was always the policy in the cities I represented, and we even had one case go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case was Muehler v Mena decided in 2005...). In any event, use the Find a Lawyer tab on Avvo to find an attorney in your area to consult with. Best of luck to you...

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Posted

Thank you for the explanation. Were you referring to CAGC Section 913 when talking about specific language and CAGC Section 945.6(2) about the statue of limitations being two years if they don't include specific language in the rejection letter as stated in Section 913?

David Herman Hirsch

David Herman Hirsch

Posted

Yes. Funny, I've dealt with it for so long I really haven't looked at those code sections in several years. I knew they haven't changed, but after seeing your comment I looked at them again. Those are the correct sections...

Posted

The city must act on the claim within 45 days after the claim has been presented. (NOTE: A claim is "presented" when it is placed in the mail, NOT when it is received by the city. And, mailing extends any period of duty to respond by 5 days, if the address is in California.) The city's failure to take action on the claim within 45 days is, by operation of law, deemed rejection of the claim. (See California Government Code section 912.4. et seq.) So, if you have not heard back from the city by the applicable deadline, and you want to be on the safe side, then file your lawsuit, in the Superior Court of California, within six (6) months from that deadline. And, to answer your other question, another "deadline" to keep in mind is statute of limitations to file an action in federal court.

Ms. Berjis is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The laws of your jurisdiction may differ and thus this answer is for informational and educational purposes only and is not to be considered as legal advice. Since all facts are not addressed in the question, this answer could change depending on other significant and important facts. This answer in no way constitutes an attorney-client relationship.

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Posted

Thank you, this is very helpful. If I do have a case, it will be against city police so how does federal court plays into this and what is the statue of limitations to file an action in the federal court? Is it from my complaint date in mid-November? Should I/must I go first through Superior Court of CA before filing an action in a federal court?

Posted

You should bring all of the facts and evidence to a civil rights attorney who has successfully sued police officers and or police departments. After such a lawyer has all of the facts, he or she can make sure that you meet all of the deadlines and let you know if you have a case worth pursuing in court.

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