Legal Memorandum: Doctrine of Judicial Immunity in LA

Issue: Whether a City Marshal in Louisiana may be entitled to absolute immunity such as is accorded to city judges if he was carrying out the judges’ verbal policy relative to collecting fines.

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Municipal, County and Local Law
Keywords: Judicial immunity; Performance of judicial role; Immunity based on the function
Jurisdiction: Louisiana
Cited Cases: 671 So. 2d 440; 651 So. 2d 975; 681 So. 2d 944; 633 So. 2d 674; 583 So. 2d 1210
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 10/01/2011

“Under the doctrine of judicial immunity, a judge is entitled to absolute immunity from liability for acts he performs in his judicial role which are integral to the judicial process.”  Harris v. Brustowicz, 95-0027 (La. App. 1 Cir. 10/6/95); 671 So. 2d 440, 442. Louisiana’s judicial immunity doctrine extends to any “individual perform[ing] a judicial function with an integral relationship to the judicial process.”  Bell v. Crump, 94-763, p. 7 (La. App. 3 Cir. 3/8/95); 651 So. 2d 975, 980, writ denied.  A judicial function may be delegated to court personnel, in which case the court personnel gain judicial immunity.  Johnson v. Foti, 583 So. 2d 1210, 1212 (La. App. 4 Cir. 7/16/91).  Even non-judicial personnel may be entitled to the cloak of absolute judicial immunity if they are “fulfilling quasi-judicial functions intimately related to the judicial process.”  Harris, 671 So. 2d at 443.

Thus, immunity extends based on the function protected, not the title of the person claiming the immunity.  Haley v. Leary, 2009-1626, p. 3 (La. App. 4 Cir. 8/4/10); ___ So. 3d ___ (quoting Knapper v. Connick, 96-0434 (La. 10/15/96); 681 So. 2d 944, 946), writ denied, cert. denied, ___. S. Ct. ___, (Oct. 3, 2011).  “[T]he determining factor is whether the individual performs a judicial function with an integral relationship to the judicial process.”  Bell, 94-763, p. 7; 651 So. 2d at 980 (emphasis added).

In Louisiana, a city court and its employees, as well […]

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