Absolute and qualified immunity are legal doctrines that may shield government officials from liability. The experienced civil rights attorneys at Miller Law Group can help you navigate this area of law if your rights have been violated by a government official.
In nearly every civil rights case, government officials will attempt to assert immunity as a defense. Knowing this area of law is critical to success for any civil rights plaintiff. Immunity for officials is broken down into two categories: absolute and qualified immunity.
Absolute immunity is a total bar to suit. This type of immunity is held by officials carrying out judicial, legislative, and prosecutorial duties, among others. To properly assert this immunity the official must be acting in that protected role when the alleged violation occurs, as opposed to simply being employed in that role. For example, a judge acting in a judicial capacity may never be held civilly liable. However, a judge acting as employer when hiring staff, may be held liable if the hiring practices are unconstitutionally discriminatory.
Because absolute immunity is so stark, the Supreme Court has noted that qualified immunity is the presumptive form of immunity available to officials. See Burns v. Reed, 500 U.S. 478, 487 (1991); see also Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 271 (1993). Any officer who is not afforded absolute immunity may only attempt to assert qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is often called “good-faith immunity” meaning that officers are immune when exercising discretion in good faith. This defense is most often asserted by police officers and correctional officers. Furthermore, it only provides immunity from monetary damages, not injunctive relief.
If your rights have been violated by the government, contact Miller Law Group today for a free consultation or call us at (919) 348-4361. Our experienced civil rights attorneys can help you navigate the complexities of officer immunity.