Immunity Abuse

This is a collection of documents and links on the general subject of immunity abuse, which will be broken out into categories.

  1. Sovereign — Immunity of governments from suit.
  2. Official — Immunity of officials from suit.
As a general rule, judges of courts of general or limited jurisdiction, acting under color of jurisdiction, are not liable to civil actions for their judicial acts, even when such acts are in excess of their jurisdiction and are alleged to have been done maliciously or corruptly. But the law draws a distinction between excess of jurisdiction and the absence of jurisdiction over the subject-matter, person or territory. In this case a judge is liable like any other person who acts without authority or warrant and thus becomes a trespasser. It is clear that the judge of a court of record is not answerable at common law, in an action for erroneous judgment, yet I have found no authority for saying that she is not answerable in an action for an act done by her command and authority, when she has no jurisdiction. If a judge acts clearly without the proper steps to acquire jurisdiction in a particular case, it can afford no excuse to her. Personal jurisdiction, territorial jurisdiction, subject-matter jurisdiction, and proper notice to the defendant are prerequisites for a valid judgment. When jurisdiction over the subject, person or territory being entirely wanting in the court, and this being necessarily known to its judge, her commission would afford no protection to her in the exercise of the usurped authority. In a court of limited jurisdiction, whenever a party denies that the court lacks jurisdiction, it becomes the duty and the burden of the party claiming that the court has jurisdiction to provide evidence thereof.
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Maintained: Jon Roland of the Constitution Society
Original date: 2007/11/15 —