South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Absolute Judicial Immunity Has Very Few Exceptions

Federal judge dismissed a suit against various state judges who were alleged to have violated constitutional rights of the plaintiff. Absolute judicial immunity applies whenever judges are acting in the official capacity of their office.

Topic Court Procedure
Key Words

Judicial Immunity; Constitutional Claims

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Murphy sued various Maine state judges in federal courts, contending they violated her First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and various rights under the Maine constitution. The judges moved to dismiss the suit.


Motion granted. Judges performing judicial acts within their jurisdiction are entitled to absolute immunity from civil liability. This applies even when the judge is accused of acting maliciously and corruptly. This principle does not exist to protect malicious or corrupt judges but to benefit the public, whose interest it is that the judges should be at liberty to exercise their functions with independence and without fear of consequences. There are only two circumstances where absolute judicial immunity may be inappropriate: 1) functions that are not normally performed by a judge and are outside his or her judicial capacity, or 2) judicial actions taken in the clear absence of all jurisdiction. All judges sued were acting in their official capacity and thus had absolute immunity.


Murphy v. Maine, ---F.Supp.2d--- (2006 WL 2699738, D. Maine, 2006)

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