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Sovereign Immunity

Ex parte Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission, [Ms. 1170892, Oct. 26, 2018] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2018). This unanimous decision by Justice Sellers grants the Commission’s petition for a writ of mandamus directing the Montgomery Circuit Court to dismiss a complaint for declaratory judgment filed against the Commission by a former state trooper.

The Court first noted that “[i]t is well established that ‘a court’s failure to dismiss a case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction based on sovereign immunity may properly be addressed by a petition for the writ of mandamus.’” Ms. *5, quoting Ex parte Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, 837 So. 2d 808, 810-11 (Ala. 2012). The Court held that “[a]s a State agency, the Commission is entitled to absolute immunity under § 14 [of the Alabama Constitution].” Ms. *7. The Court also held that an amended complaint was a nullity because the initial complaint naming only the Commission “failed to trigger the subject-matter jurisdiction of the circuit court.” Ms. *7-8.

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