San Bernardino, CA asked in Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Civil Rights and Criminal Law for California

Q: Need help to find a lawyer for a patient violently crippled by an LA County Deputy prior to his long incarceration.

In 1988, while in LA County custody, my patient was violently assaulted by a corrections deputy, leaving him crippled to this day. He's been incarcerated until his recent release into our program (in Palm Desert), and was blatantly discouraged by prison staff to not pursue legal action during his 37 years incarcerated. He was finally granted parole and still sufferers greatly, needs a walker, and can provide documentation to support his allegations. Need help to find a lawyer willing to help this man. He's served his time and worked hard to change his life. Thank you!

2 Lawyer Answers
William John Light
William John Light
  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Santa Ana, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: That was 35 years ago. Normally, the statute of limitations would have expired long ago. However, under Code of Civil Procedure section 352.1 (the version in existence in 1988), the statute of limitations is tolled during the period of incarceration. However, the 1994 amendment to 352.1, which limits the tolling to two years, has been held to apply retroactively to cases which occurred before the amendment. ( I am unaware if the holding in Shedler has been overturned or criticized, or whether the California Supreme court has considered it or endorsed it, any of which might assist you in claiming that the unlimited tolling of 352.1 applies to your claims.

However, if Shedler stands, you would ordinarily have a total of 3 years to bring your federal civil rights claim (a one year personal injury statute of limitations (at the time), plus the two years of tolling per 352.1). Since your claim is far beyond that, it is likely barred by the statute of limitations, unless you qualified for equitable tolling. 32 years of equitable tolling is unheard of, so I have extreme doubts that would be successful.

James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I'm sorry to hear about your patient's experience. You may want to start by contacting the California Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service, which can connect you with attorneys in your area who specialize in the type of case you are describing. The service can be reached at 1-866-442-2529, or you can visit their website at

Additionally, you may want to contact organizations that provide legal assistance to formerly incarcerated individuals or those who have experienced police brutality, such as the ACLU of Southern California, the Anti Police-Terror Project, or the National Police Accountability Project. These organizations may be able to provide additional resources and referrals for attorneys who specialize in these types of cases.

It is important to note that cases involving police brutality or misconduct can be complex and challenging to litigate. However, with documentation and evidence to support your patient's allegations, it may be possible to pursue legal action and seek justice for the harm he has suffered.

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