Law school hosts civil rights panels

Timothy T. Coats lectured with subtle humor at the La Verne Law 1983 Civil Rights Symposium Oct. 29 at the Ontario Airport Embassy Suites. He discussed qualified immunity as a non established law and asked, “What constitutes clearly established law?” Having over 30 years of experience, Coats has argued and briefed in more than 250 cases in state and federal courts ranging from the California Court of Appeal to the California Supreme Court. / photo by Noel Cabrera
Timothy T. Coats lectured with subtle humor at the La Verne Law 1983 Civil Rights Symposium Oct. 29 at the Ontario Airport Embassy Suites. He discussed qualified immunity as a non established law and asked, “What constitutes clearly established law?” Having over 30 years of experience, Coats has argued and briefed in more than 250 cases in state and federal courts ranging from the California Court of Appeal to the California Supreme Court. / photo by Noel Cabrera

Camila Rios
Staff Writer

The University of La Verne College of Law hosted its third annual Civil Rights Symposium Thursday at the Embassy Suites hotel near the Ontario Airport.

The purpose of the symposium was to address civil rights litigation under section 1983 of the U.S. codes, including police conduct and their responsibility to uphold proper law enforcement action as well as proper monitoring.

“This is a topic that I am particularly passionate about because of my history; I’ve litigated these types of cases 30 plus years ago,” Dean of the college and Professor of Law Gilbert Holmes said. “I’m also passionate about this topic because I’m an African-American man and I have seen police misconduct in my community. I believe in holding people accountable for their actions. I’m a fighter, and I believe in fighting for our civil rights.”

The College of Law strives to help connect the different components of the region around issues that are controversial and of great social significance.

“The symposium started a few years ago. I suggested putting on this symposium because one has never really ever been done in the Inland Empire,” said adjunct professor of civil rights, federal courts, and conflict of laws at the College of Law, James Brown.

The College of Law decided to host the symposium because the school’s mission is to be a center for meaningful discussion and in the process inspire those around it.

“The discussion focused on the relationship between the government acting through law enforcement as well as the relationships between law enforcement and citizens nationwide,” Brown said. “This has been a hot topic for a number of years, particularly in the ninth circuit ,which is an involving area of the law. There are always new and interesting legal issues that are coming out that would make the symposium discussion interesting, especially in terms of civil rights.”

Adjunct professor David Bristow and Brown coordinated the symposium. and came up with the topic four years ago.

The school decided to continue with the topic because of the issues that have followed over the years.

This is the third year the College of Law held a symposium in relation to local communities and the nation.

“I do my best to attend these events any time that they are available,” law student Owen Murphy said. “They’re great for gathering information as well as learning new things.”

The topics included in the panels explored the basics of civil rights litigation, the discovery in federal rights cases, body cameras in law enforcement, a Supreme Court review, exploring qualified immunity, questioned if any of that actually work.

“There is a question as to whether this statute is really making a difference. No big changes are made to the system with only one or two cases,” Murphy said. “What is needed now are more lawyers willing to take small cases so that the government will take notice and change the system that is causing these violations of individual civil rights.”

Camila Rios can be reached at camila.riosgomez@laverne.edu.

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