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The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 11H: Violations of constitutional rights; civil actions by attorney general; venue; compensatory damages; fees and costs; civil penalties

[Text of section effective until July 1, 2021. For text effective July 1, 2021, see below.]

Section 11H. Whenever any person or persons, whether or not acting under color of law, interfere by threats, intimidation or coercion, or attempt to interfere by threats, intimidation or coercion, with the exercise or enjoyment by any other person or persons of rights secured by the constitution or laws of the United States, or of rights secured by the constitution or laws of the commonwealth, the attorney general may bring a civil action for injunctive or other appropriate equitable relief in order to protect the peaceable exercise or enjoyment of the right or rights secured. Said civil action shall be brought in the name of the commonwealth and shall be instituted either in the superior court for the county in which the conduct complained of occurred or in the superior court for the county in which the person whose conduct complained of resides or has his principal place of business.

If the attorney general prevails in an action under this section, the attorney general shall be entitled to: (i) an award of compensatory damages for any aggrieved person or entity; and (ii) litigation costs and reasonable attorneys' fees in an amount to be determined by the court. In a matter involving the interference or attempted interference with any right protected by the constitution of the United States or of the commonwealth, the court may also award civil penalties against each defendant in an amount not exceeding $5,000 for each violation.


Chapter 12: Section 11H. Violations of constitutional rights; civil actions by attorney general; right to bias-free professional policing

[Text of section as amended by 2020, 253, Sec. 37 effective July 1, 2021. See 2020, 253, Sec. 122. For text effective until July 1, 2021, see above.]

Section 11H. (a)(1) Whenever any person or persons, whether or not acting under color of law, interfere by threats, intimidation or coercion, or attempt to interfere by threats, intimidation or coercion, with the exercise or enjoyment by any other person or persons of rights secured by the constitution or laws of the United States, or of rights secured by the constitution or laws of the commonwealth, the attorney general may bring a civil action for injunctive or other appropriate equitable relief in order to protect the peaceable exercise or enjoyment of the right or rights secured. Said civil action shall be brought in the name of the commonwealth and shall be instituted either in the superior court for the county in which the conduct complained of occurred or in the superior court for the county in which the person whose conduct complained of resides or has his principal place of business.

(2) If the attorney general prevails in an action under this section, the attorney general shall be entitled to: (i) an award of compensatory damages for any aggrieved person or entity; and (ii) litigation costs and reasonable attorneys' fees in an amount to be determined by the court. In a matter involving the interference or attempted interference with any right protected by the constitution of the United States or of the commonwealth, the court may also award civil penalties against each defendant in an amount not exceeding $5,000 for each violation.

(b) All persons shall have the right to bias-free professional policing. Any conduct taken in relation to an aggrieved person by a law enforcement officer acting under color of law that results in the decertification of said law enforcement officer by the Massachusetts peace officer standards and training commission pursuant to section 10 of chapter 6E shall constitute interference with said person's right to bias-free professional policing and shall be a prima facie violation of said person's right to bias-free professional policing and a prima facie violation of subsection (a). No law enforcement officer shall be immune from civil liability for any conduct under color of law that violates a person's right to bias-free professional policing if said conduct results in the law enforcement officer's decertification by the Massachusetts peace officer standards and training commission pursuant to section 10 of chapter 6E; provided, however, that nothing in this subsection shall be construed to grant immunity from civil liability to a law enforcement officer for interference by threat, intimidation or coercion, or attempted interference by threats, intimidation or coercion, with the exercise or enjoyment any right secured by the constitution or laws of the United States or the constitution or laws of the commonwealth if the conduct of said officer was knowingly unlawful or was not objectively reasonable.