Before submitting your complaint for review by the ACLU legal team, please carefully read ALL of the following information:
1. Types of cases the ACLU generally DOES NOT accept:
- Employment-related cases, unless there is a significant First Amendment issue or discrimination-related matter;
- Cases about being denied public benefits such as worker’s compensation or unemployment benefits;
- Criminal cases or complaints about a public defender or judge;
- Family law cases (related to divorce, child custody, child support, etc);
- Landlord-Tenant cases;
- Cases that involve tribal governments.
2. Types of Cases we DO ACCEPT IF we have the resources:
- Freedom of Speech and Press – For example: a student is suspended for writing a newspaper article critical of the principal; a police officer is disciplined for speaking out against police brutality; a group is charged for police protection when it applies for a demonstration permit;
- Freedom of Religion – This involves both the right of individuals to practice their own religion and the separation of church and state. Schools and other public agencies cannot in any way promote or sponsor religious ideas;
- Right to Privacy – For example: searches and seizures of personal property without reasonable grounds to suspect the person of a crime;
- Equal Protection/Discrimination – For example: a sheriff’s department which focuses on arresting African-American individuals;
- Due Process of Law – For example, a community group is denied a permit by the police and the town provides no way to appeal the police decision.
3. Why we prefer cases without factual disputes
We tend to take cases that do not involve complicated disputes of fact, but prefer to take cases where the issue is a question of law. Facts are considered to be in dispute whenever you have one version of what happened and the other party(s) has a different view. An example of a factual dispute is an employment discrimination case where the employer claims he fired the employee because of poor job performance and has credible evidence to support that claim.
The reasons we often decide not to accept cases involving factual disputes are: (A) Our limited resources (it is often expensive to prove a case which involves substantial factual disputes); (B) A court might never reach the civil liberties legal issue if it resolves the facts against the client;(C) The case is less likely to have a broad impact on others if the decision rests upon the specific facts of a case.
4. Why the ACLU turns down cases that fall within our guidelines for acceptance
There are many cases and problems of unfairness and injustice, and the ACLU is simply unable to handle all of them. We receive hundreds of requests for assistance each month. In busy periods, we can not take on even great cases due to our lack of resources.
5. How the ACLU of New Mexico accepts cases
The ACLU generally takes cases that affect the civil liberties of large numbers of people. Please know that, due to the high volume of complaints, we only take on a small percentage of complaints that we receive. At times our case-load is such that we regrettably are unable to respond fully to complaints for eight to ten weeks.
As time and resources provide, we will try to respond fully to your complaint and to provide other options that you may explore if we cannot accept your case. We are unable to respond to telephone calls regarding the status of complaints.
Please note that receipt of your complaint does not imply any agreement to undertake representation on your behalf. If your matter is urgent, please seek private counsel.
6. When or how can the ACLU advise on a case?
The ACLU is unable to give advice about your case or provide other types of assistance, (for example, reviewing your papers or conducting legal research to assist you), if we do not accept your case. This policy allows us to direct the necessary resources to those few cases that we do accept.
7. An important note about deadlines
All legal claims have time deadlines. The deadlines may be different depending on who violated your rights and depending on what rights were violated. For some kinds of violations, you may need to file a claim with a government agency before you can sue, and these agencies usually have their own time deadlines. The ACLU cannot give you advice about the deadlines that apply to your case.
To protect your rights, please consult with an attorney promptly to find out what deadlines apply in your case. For your convenience we’ve included several legal resources here:
Legal Resources in New Mexico
- Lawyers Care/State Bar of New Mexico Pro Bono/Referral (ABQ): 797-6050
- Lawyer Referral for the Elderly Program/ LREP (ABQ): 797-6005/1-800-876-6657
- Legal Aid Society of Albuquerque: 243-7871 \
- Las Cruces: 526-4451/1-800-376-5727
- Southern NM Legal Services (Las Cruces): 541-4800/1-800-376-7665
- UNM School of Law–Clinical Law Program (ABQ): 277-5265
- City of Abq. Human Rights Office: 924-3380
- New Mexico Department of Labor, Human Rights Office (Santa Fe): 827-6838
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/EEOC (ABQ.): 248-5201
- Protection and Advocacy System, Inc. (Disabilities) (ABQ.): 256-3100
- Attorney General’s Office—Consumer Protection Division: 1-800-678-1508.
If you have read through all of the above and still feel that your case meets our criteria, you are now welcome to submit your complaint.
Please understand that unless and until the ACLU agrees to take your case, you are solely responsible for any and all statutes of limitations or other deadlines that might apply to your specific situation.
If you have concerns about a statute of limitations or if you feel your case demands immediate attention, you may wish to seek advice from an attorney.