Legal Memorandum: Entitlement to Qualified Immunity

Issue: Whether Louisiana municipal government employees are entitled to the defense of qualified immunity.

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Municipal, County and Local Law
Keywords: Qualified immunity; Public officials; Municipal government employees
Jurisdiction: Louisiana
Cited Cases: 605 So. 2d 1032; 891 F. Supp. 312; 277 F.3d 743
Cited Statutes: 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Date: 07/01/2010

When applicable, qualified immunity protects public officials from both damages and trial.  Roberts v. City of Shreveport, 397 F.3d 287, 291 (5th Cir. 2005).*FN1  The Supreme Court has recognized the necessity of permitting officials to perform their official functions free from the threat of suits for personal liability, based on the injustice, particularly in the absence of bad faith, of subjecting to liability an officer who is required, by the nature of his position, to exercise discretion, and the danger that the threat of liability would deter his willingness to execute his office with the decisiveness required for the public good.  Citrano v. Allen Correctional Ctr., 891 F. Supp. 312, 316 (W.D. La. 1995).  Even private parties performing public functions may be entitled to immunity under this rationale.  Id. at 316 (citing cases).

In Roberts, off-duty Officer Rivet of the Shreveport Police Department was working as a crossing guard at a church one Sunday morning.  397 F.3d at 290.  Although off duty, he was wearing a distinctive police baseball cap and jacket and was armed with his service revolver.  Id.  As he attempted to escort some pedestrians across the street, an errant driver approached, and Officer Rivet ended up on the hood of the car.  He fired twice through the windshield with his service revolver, whereupon the driver attempted to throw the officer off the vehicle with erratic driving maneuvers.  As Rivet was falling, he shot one more […]

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