2024 DRI Civil Rights and Governmental Tort Liability Seminar

January 17–19, 2024 | Phoenix, Arizona

White House skyline

Develop Winning Litigation Strategies with Renowned Experts!

Register by December 4, 2023, to receive the early bird discounted rate.
View registration information here.

Register for the Seminar

DRI is proud to announce the 37th annual Civil Rights and Governmental Tort Liability Seminar in Phoenix, AZ! This seminar will provide you with invaluable information and tools to represent your governmental clients. This year’s faculty include preeminent insurance professionals, a renowned Supreme Court advocate, a qualified immunity scholar, and Section 1983 experts from across the United States. Attendees will develop litigation and trial tactics, including maintaining client relations, defending officer depositions, addressing medical causation in use-of-force cases, giving an opening statement, and more! As always, attendees will also have opportunities to network and exchange ideas and winning strategies with experienced litigators and insurance professionals. See you in Phoenix!

What You Will Learn:

  • How to defend a police case every step of the way, from day one to the first day of trial.
  • The science behind the force that officers use and how that impacts liability defense and medical causation.
  • The latest developments in qualified immunity.
  • Tips and strategies for addressing homelessness-related claims.

Expand Your Network By:

  • Meeting lawyers from across the US that defend governmental entities, resulting in the expansion of your lawyer-to-lawyer referral network.
  • Engaging with clients and colleagues while enjoying a cocktail during our networking happy hours.
  • Attending Dine-Arounds with fellow seminar attendees at local restaurants.

Panel Counsel Meetings with Major Companies
Take advantage of the opportunity to engage with key industry companies* including:

  • Kentucky League of Cities
  • Tokio Marine
  • Travelers

*Subject to change

Printing is supported on Windows, iOS and macOS. To save this page as a PDF, click on the "Print Brochure" button and under printer destination select "Save as PDF" or "Print to PDF".
For Android users, some or all browsers do not support printing.

Print Brochure

google-plus2 blogger tumblr2 reddit delicious stumbleupon mail

Share this page:

Thank You to DRI's Governmental Liability Committee Leadership

Kevin P. Allen
Kevin Allen
Program Chair
Tricia Ambrose
Tricia Ambrose
Program Vice Chair
Ryan Kunhart
Ryan Kunhart
Committee Chair
Monté L. Williams
Monté Williams
Committee Vice Chair
June J. Essis
June J. Essis
Law Institute

Join the Governmental Liability Committee

Registration Information

Save up to $200 when you register on or before December 4!

Register Today

Member Pricing Non-Member Pricing Non-Member Bundle ^
Early Bird Registration*
(Now thru Dec. 4)
$1,395 $1,795 $1,715
Regular Registration*
(Dec. 5–Jan. 16)
$1,595 $1,995 $1,915
Onsite Registration $1,695 $2,095 $2,015
Group Registration (Non-Sponsored)** $1,095 per person $1,095 per person $1,095 per person
Government Government members will receive the applicable government rate for the seminar upon login. If the government rate does not appear after logging in, please call DRI directly at (312) 795-1101 to receive the discounted rate. Invoices can be sent after purchase upon request.

Not a DRI Member? Select the Non-Member Bundle and Save!

^ Not a DRI Member and new to DRI? Take advantage of the Non-Member / Trial Membership Bundle and receive up to 9 months of membership when you register for the DRI Civil Rights and Governmental Tort Liability Seminar. You’ll be able to add this special offer to your cart at check out. Note: Trial membership processing can take up to 30 days from the date of purchase, please contact DRI Customer Service with any questions.

Learn more about membership at DRI and get started on your DRI journey today!

*If your membership recently lapsed, please renew your membership prior to registering to ensure you receive your discounted member rate. If you would like to join DRI to receive the member pricing and see the benefits of becoming a member, click here to go to the Application page.

**Group registration is for registering four or more attendees, members and non-members. There is one free registration with every 10 registrations. You must lock in the rate three weeks prior to the seminar. If you want to register for the group pricing, fill out the form here (online registration is not available for this offering).

Networking Events

Premier Networking Event at the XXXXX
Sponsored by: ABC

Date: Wednesday, Month Day from 7:00–10:00 p.m.
Pricing: Free when you register for the seminar (guest tickets $100 each, available at check-out)
Location: XXXXX, Address, City, State


Agenda with Speakers

*Schedule and Speakers subject to change

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Time (Mountain) Program
12:00 p.m. Registration
4:00 p.m. Reporting Claims

The claims professional/attorney relationship is essential to the defense of any matter. Hear from two of the best in the business on the right way for attorneys to handle a case, including how often to report, what to report, when to request experts (and how to do so), what to include in pre-mediation and pre-trial reports, and how to handle reporting when representing multiple defendants.

Chris Duffy, Munich Re Specialty Insurance, Chicago, IL
David Karamessinis, Travelers, Buffalo, NY
6:00 p.m. Networking / Cocktail Hour
7:30 p.m. Dine-Arounds

Join colleagues and friends at selected restaurants for dinner (on your own).

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Time (Mountain) Program
8:00 a.m. Registration & Coffee Service

Get to know the early risers in our group over a cup of coffee.
9:00 a.m. Welcome and Introductions

Ford Stephens, Christian & Barton, Richmond, VA
Kevin P. Allen, Allen, Glaessner, Hazelwood & Werth, San Francisco, CA
9:15 a.m. Handling Police Claims: Day One

This three-part session will explore the everyday handling and defense of Section 1983 claims. Part 1 examines the first few days of an incident, including: when the entity should retain counsel, what documents and evidence should be immediately preserved, and the first meeting with the involved officer(s).

Joseph Vigil, Maricopa County Attorneys Office, Phoenix, AZ
R. David Ware, Hall Booth Smith, Atlanta, GA
10:15 a.m. Coffee Break
10:30 a.m. Supreme Court Review and Analysis

Supreme Court advocate Tom Dupree joins us again to break down the latest United States Supreme Court decisions, their impact on governmental entities and officials, and what the opinions may foretell for the High Court going forward.

Thomas H. Dupree, Jr., Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP, Washington, D.C.
11:30 a.m. Breakout Sessions #1

Litigation Spotlight: Color of Authority

When is a police officer considered “on the job?” When do an officer’s actions cross the line from personal to professional, such that it constitutes state actor conduct for purposes of Section 1983 and/or makes the officer’s employer liable for state-law claims via vicarious liability? This session will provide attendees insight into an ever-more complicated area of law and the tools necessary to defend against potentially unwarranted suits.

Angelica Jarmusz, Fishel Downey Albrecht & Riepenhoff LLP, New Albany OH

Litigation Spotlight: Defending First Amendment Claims

First Amendment claims are a growing segment of Section 1983 litigation. Whether it be assertions of retaliatory arrest, retaliatory use-of-force, or retaliatory malicious prosecution, the allegations can run the gamut. This session will focus on two discrete topics in defending First Amendment claims: (1) tips and strategies for protest-related free speech claims; (2) how to use the availability of multiple videos to recreate the incident and explain what happened. Our speakers will highlight a past case as an example for their discussion.

Karen Stillwell, Phoenix City Attorney’s Office, Phoenix, AZ
Toby Terpstra, AAS, J.S. Held, Denver, CO
12:30 p.m. DRI Cares - Blessings in a Backpack

On your way to lunch, support Blessings in a Backpack, DRI Cares, and the DRI Foundation by filling a bag with food for a child experiencing food insecurity in our community. Feed a child before you feed yourself to make a difference in the lives of children and families all over our country and in this local community.

Click here for details.
12:30 p.m. DRI Networking Lunch

Join the Civil Rights and Construction Law seminar attendees for lunch and networking opportunities that are second to none!
1:45 p.m. Qualified Immunity

We’re thrilled to have Professor Blum back with us to discuss the latest Circuit and Supreme Court developments in qualified immunity. She will also provide her insight on the future of the doctrine.

Karen M. Blum, Suffolk University Law School, Boston, MA
2:45 p.m. Litigation Spotlight: The Science of Use-of-Force

The days of only a revolver and baton are long past; officers today possess an array of force and restraint options, including OC spray; spit masks; less-lethal shotguns; and 40 mm launchers. They also have a variety of ways to secure a subject, including prone restraint. Defending these options necessitates familiarity with the science behind them, how officers perceive a threat, and how officers react to that threat.

In this panel discussion, hear from two subject matter experts on the “before” and “after” of force. Learn about the decision-making process in the lead-up to force, how much time officers have to react, and their time to reassess a situation in the moment. Discover what various force options actually do, how they affect the body, and the results of that force.

Jamie Borden, Critical Incident Review, Las Vegas, NV
Mary G. Erlingson, Erlingson Banks, PLLC, Baton Rouge, LA
Mark W. Kroll, PhD, FAIMBE, FACC, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
4:15 p.m. Handling Police Claims: Depositions

Most of the time spent on police cases involves discovery: requesting it, responding it, or motion practice about it. In Part 2 of our series, learn best practices on depositions, the most critical of discovery tools. Gain insight on how to prepare your officer(s) and how to approach the testimony of the decedent’s survivor(s).

Christina Retts, Wieneke Law Group, Tempe, AZ
5:15 p.m. Governmental Liability Committee Business Meeting
6:00 p.m. Premier Networking Reception

Join fellow seminar attendees at our Premier Networking Reception. More details to come.
8:00 p.m. Dine-Arounds

Join colleagues and friends at selected restaurants for dinner (on your own).

Friday, January 19, 2024

Time (Mountain) Program
8:00 a.m. Registration and Coffee Service
9:00 a.m. Welcome and Announcements

Tricia Ambrose, MacMain Leinhauser PC, West Chester, PA
9:10 a.m. Ethics: Attorney Behavior

Judges see the best and worst of lawyers, and they see it on a daily basis: case management conferences, discovery disputes, motion hearings, and trial. Join us as we hear from two esteemed members of the Arizona judiciary and learn how to ever-improve the ethical practice of law.

Judge Scott A. Blaney, Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County, Phoenix, AZ
Hon. John J. Tuchi, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ
Ann E. Trivett, Keating, Bucklin & McCormack, Seattle, WA
10:10 a.m. Coffee Break
10:25 a.m. Breakout Sessions #2

Tasers: Myth v. Reality

Join us as Dr. Jeffrey Ho, an emergency physician who has tested and studied TASER energy weapons, discusses the cardiac, pathophysiologic, and metabolic impact of such weapons. This session will better prepare counsel to evaluate causation challenges in TASER cases.

Dr. Jeffrey Ho, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN
Amy Nguyen, AXON Asst. General Counsel and Sr. Director of TASER Safety, Scottsdale, AZ

Developing Litigation Trends: Homelessness

Homelessness is an ever-present reality in America. No longer limited to urban centers like New York and San Francisco, nearly all cities now balance maintaining public safety, protecting constitutional rights, and serving all residents. This session examines the liability risks and concerns unique to homeless litigation, including: (1) enforcement of sit-lie laws; (2) the permissibility of encampment sweeps/searches; and (3) Fourth Amendment applicability to such matters.

Jody Corbett, Phoenix City Attorney’s Office, Phoenix, AZ
11:25 a.m. Breakout Session #3

Handling Police Claims: First Day of Trial

Whether you’ve tried one case or one hundred, we’re all always learning. In Part 3 of our series, hear from renowned civil rights litigator Gene Ramirez on crafting and delivering an opening statement.

Eugene P. Ramirez, Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Transgender Youth and School Facilities

Many schools are seeing a growing number of transgender students and are having to consider issues such as access to restrooms, use of pronouns etc. In this session, hear from Robert Sniffen, Esquire and Terry Harmon, Esquire, who litigated Adams v. School Board of Johns County before the 11th Circuit as they discuss their experience and what practicing lawyers can expect in this new landscape of not only education law but also how municipalities are being called upon to enforce state statutes and ordinances related to transgender bathroom use, including in correctional facilities.

Robert J. Sniffen, Sniffen & Spellman P.A., Tallahassee, FL
Terry J. Harmon, Sniffen & Spellman P.A., Tallahassee, FL
12:25 p.m. Adjourn

Headquarters Hotel Information

A limited number of discounted hotel rooms have been made available at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, 340 N 3rd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004. Take advantage of the group rate of $259.00 Single/Double in one of two ways:

The hotel block is limited, and rooms and rates are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You must make reservations by December 19, 2023, to be eligible for the hotel's group rate. Requests for reservations made after December 19 are subject to room and rate availability.

CLE Information

Earn up to 10.50 hours of continuing legal education hours (CLE), including 1.00 hour of Ethics from this seminar.

View CLE Credit by State

CLE Late Fees


DRI's Civil Rights and Governmental Tort Liability Seminar is proudly sponsored by:


If you would like to contact DRI about seminar sponsorship opportunities, including pricing, or to reserve a spot, please go to Advertising and Sponsorship.

DRI Cares

Blessings in a Backpack

Blessings in a Backpack Who Will Feed the Kids this Weekend?

Please join us in supporting Blessings in a Backpack, an organization that mobilizes communities, individuals, and resources to provide food on the weekends for school-aged children across America who might otherwise go hungry. Seminar attendees will have the opportunity to fill bags of food on the way to the joint networking lunch on Thursday, January 18th. Feeding a child before you feed yourself is a wonderful way to support children and families in the Phoenix community.

Donate to Blessings in a Backpack

Other Information

If you have any questions or concerns regarding DRI programs, please contact DRI Customer Service at 312.795.1101 or custservice@dri.org.