Can you sue under a state civil rights statute?
But only if you are suing a law enforcement officer. The Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act permits you to sue law enforcement officers directly when they violate your state constitutional rights and forbids officers from raising a defense of qualified immunity, but it does indemnify them from personal liability if they were acting in good faith. This statute is a step in the right direction because it eliminates qualified immunity at least as to some civil rights claims. The recent passage of this statute makes Colorado into one of the highest performers in our database.
Colorado’s Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act
In 2020, Colorado passed the Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act (“ELEIA”). In addition to providing new oversight on law enforcement, the law provides victims of law enforcement misconduct with a civil remedy. 1 Importantly, the law also explicitly prohibits a defense of qualified immunity. 2
The Colorado Bill of Rights includes several provisions that mirror those of the United States Constitution, including protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, free speech, and guarantees of due process of law. 3
Not Law Enforcement? You’re Generally Out of Luck
Unfortunately, the ELEIA only provides a civil remedy for victims of law enforcement misconduct. Other varieties of Colorado government officials are not included within the scope of its relief. Instead, the liability of these officials is governed by the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (“CGIA”). 4
The CGIA provides that “[a] public entity shall be immune from liability in all claims for injury which lie in tort or could lie in tort,” subject only to a short list of enumerated exceptions in which immunity is waived. 5 None of the listed exceptions pertain to intentional torts or constitutional torts.