New Mexico opens door to new era of civil rights lawsuits

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Efforts among a handful of states to hold police accountable for brutality and misconduct are expanding as New Mexico opens the door to civil rights lawsuits in state courts against government agencies.

Starting Thursday, the New Mexico Civil Rights Act removes immunity provisions that shield government agencies from financial liability related to misconduct, though individual officials won’t pay for damages.

As the law takes effect, local police agencies are bracing for an onslaught of lawsuits that can carry awards for damages of up to $2 million per event.

Human rights advocates foresee advances in protections for vulnerable populations, including children at foster homes and prison inmates.

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