Legal Memorandum: Municipal Clerk's Judicial Immunity

Issue: Whether a municipal clerk may be held liable for providing incorrect forms in Louisiana.

Area of Law: Employee Law, Litigation & Procedure, Municipal, County and Local Law
Keywords: Judicial immunity; Municipal clerk; Incorrect forms
Jurisdiction: Louisiana
Cited Cases: 671 So. 2d 440; 651 So. 2d 975; 157 La. 81; 327 So. 2d 180; 191 So. 556; 102 So. 76
Cited Statutes: La. Rev. Stat. § 13:1886, § 13:1880, § 13:1881(A)
Date: 05/01/2011

See La. Rev. Stat. § 13:1886, and Bell v. Crump, 651 So. 2d 975 (La. Ct. App. 3d Cir.), writ denied, 654 So. 2d 1106 (La. 1995).  In Bell, a city court clerk was sued by the defendant in a wrongful-eviction action for providing incorrect forms, information and instructions which allegedly caused the wrongful eviction.  The trial court ruled that the clerk had immunity and dismissed the case, relying on a statute that provided immunity for acts of district court clerks done pursuant to a district court judge’s written order or judgment.  Id. at 978.  The court of appeal ruled that the statute did not apply to a city court clerk.  Instead, the court stated that § 13:1886 clearly contemplated a cause of action against a city court clerk, because it required the clerk to post a bond. 

The next question was whether the clerk was protected by judicial immunity.  “This immunity extends to justices of the peace . . . minute clerks and even to non-judicial persons . . . appointed temporarily to fulfill quasi-judicial functions intimately related to the judicial process. . . .  [T]he determining factor is whether the individual performs a judicial function with an integral relationship to the judicial process.”  Id. at 979 (citations omitted).

The court concluded that the clerk was entitled to judicial immunity because the clerk was appointed by the city judge and had an “integral relationship as gatekeeper to the judicial process.”  Id.  The concurring opinion “agree[d] that the . . . Clerk is absolutely immune […]

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