HOW DOES THE ACLU DECIDE TO TAKE LEGAL CASES?
The ACLU of Georgia generally files cases that affect the civil liberties of large numbers of people rather than those involving a dispute between two parties. The basic questions we ask when reviewing a potential case are:
- Is this a significant civil liberties issue? Civil liberties include freedom of speech, the press, religion and association and also civil rights, which includes voting rights, discrimination against protected classes, and aspects of police reform.
- What effect will this case have on other people in addition to our client?
- Do we have the resources to take this case?
- Is this the best potential case available to achieve the impact we want?
The ACLU of Georgia prefers to take cases involving a question of law rather than those which involve complicated disputes of fact. An example of a factual dispute is an employment discrimination case where the employee alleges discrimination and the employer claims the employee was fired because of poor job performance, and there is credible evidence to support that claim.
The reasons we often decide not to accept cases involving factual disputes are 1) our limited resources (it is often expensive to prove a case which involves substantial factual disputes); 2) a court might never reach the civil liberties issue if it resolves the facts of the case against the client; and 3) the case is less likely to have a broad impact if the decision rests upon the specific facts of the case.
There are many cases and problems of unfairness and injustice which the ACLU of Georgia is simply unable to handle. We receive thousands of requests for assistance each year. Therefore, we cannot accept many cases that fall within the guidelines discussed above. We must select those cases which we believe will have the greatest impact on protecting civil liberties.
We do not generally take any of the following types of cases:
- Employment matters, including wrongful termination (except cases involving free expression, discrimination or whistle blowing;
- Domestic matters, including divorce, child custody, wills, etc. (except cases involving discrimination)
- Denial of benefits, including workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, and Social Security;
- Immigration matters (except human rights violations);
- Landlord/tenant disputes;
- Criminal cases, including claims of poor representation (except cases involving the death penalty, life sentence of a juvenile, or constitutionally protected behavior).
- Cases involving incidents occurring outside of Georgia.
How To File a Complaint
You can submit any complaints you have to us online, by filling out our File a Complaint form.
You can also send in complaints through the mail, fax, or e-mail. We do not accept complaints by telephone. If submitting in writing, please provide all of the following:
- Your contact information – complete name, mailing address, phone numbers, e-mail, etc.
- A brief explanation of the incident, explaining why you feel your civil liberties were abridged, and by whom.
- Tell us if you are currently represented by an attorney.
Please note the following:
- The ACLU of Georgia is not a direct legal service provider. We litigate a limited number of civil liberties/civil rights case each month.
- Our process of review is lengthy (up to several weeks), and there is no assurance that we can take your case. If you are facing time deadlines that impact your case, please secure private representation.
- Do not send original documents – materials will not be returned.
- Do not send e-mails with attachments. All information should be included in the body of the e-mail.