52 UCLA L. Rev. 601 (2004-2005)
An Unexpected Application of 42 U.S.C. 14141: Using Investigative Findings for 1983 Litigation

handle is hein.journals/uclalr52 and id is 615 raw text is: AN UNEXPECTED APPLICATION OF 42 U.S.C. § 14141:
USING INVESTIGATIVE FINDINGS FOR § 1983 LITIGATION
Matthew J. Silveira
Police misconduct is a sadly recurring phenomenon in the United States,
frequently commented upon by mass media, legislators, the courts, and legal
scholars. Incremental steps have been taken to remedy persistent police miscon-
duct, most notably and recently by Congress' passage of 42 U.S.C. § 14141.
Section 14141 grants the Department of Justice (DOJ) the authority to pursue
relief against law enforcement officials engaged in a pattern or practice of con-
duct that deprives persons of their constitutional rights. The DOJ has utilized its
§ 14141 power to enter into private settlements with police departments and
increasingly provides for the confidentiality of all documents discovered during its
preceding investigations of those police departments. While § 14141 has made
important strides in reforming law enforcement agencies and deterring pervasive
police misconduct, it has been administered without regard to the underlying vic-
tims of police abuse. In this Comment, the author suggests that victims of police
abuse attempt to harness the fact-finding unearthed during § 14141 investiga-
tions to pursue § 1983 actions seeking compensatory damages from their
abusers. This strategy of follow-on litigation, using government fact-finding to
aid private claims, would adopt techniques already utilized in such diverse areas
as antitrust, corporate malfeasance, and products liability. By learning from
these other notable areas of follow-on litigation, victims of police abuse could
potentially increase the likelihood of damage recovery, and help to effectuate the
dual remedial goals of compensation and deterrence. This Comment proposes
that the DOJ alter its administration of § 14141 to increase transparency and
allow broader access to the documents and findings stemming from its § 14141
investigations.
IN TRO DU CTIO N  ............................................................................................................. 602
L   T HE  H ISTORY  OF  §  14141 ....................................................................................... 606
A. Motivation for § 14141: The Limited Power of § 1983 ................................. 606
B.  Legislative  H istory  of §  14141 ........................................................................ 611
*    Chief Articles Editor, UCLA Law Review, Volume 52. J.D. candidate, UCLA School of
Law, 2005; B.A., San Francisco State University, 2002. Thanks to professors Kenneth Karst, David
Sklansky, and Robert Jones for their helpful comments and advice throughout the course of this
Comment's development. Special thanks to Kate Bushman for her invaluable suggestions at the
conception of this Comment and careful editing during its drafting. Thanks also to the staff of the
UCLA Law Review for their efforts in the production of this Comment.

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